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Nanaimo Art Gallery studying whether current space meets community needs

Open house taking place as gallery seeks input for feasibility study
The Nanaimo Art Gallery is conducting a feasibility study to see if its current space meets community needs. (Bulletin file photo)

The Nanaimo Art Gallery is asking for public feedback as it conducts a feasibility study to determine if its current space adequately serves the community or if expansion or a new building is required.

On Feb. 18, the NAG is holding an open house where members of the public can share their thoughts on the kinds of exhibitions, programs and events they’d like to see at the gallery and what the gallery should look like in the future. There will also be live music, refreshments, an interactive art activity and visitors will be able to view the current exhibition, Bombhead.

“Right now the big question is: what do we need from a gallery for a community of our size and how can we meet those community needs?” NAG executive director Carolyn Holmes asked.

Holmes said the NAG is “extremely small” when compared to galleries in cities of similar size to Nanaimo. She said those galleries are usually about five times larger with multiple exhibition rooms and expanded programming space.

“When the community [responds] and we’ve done interviews and we’ve looked at other galleries across the province and trends in galleries across the country, we can say, ‘What do we really need and does 150 Commercial St., where Nanaimo Art Gallery is now, can it meet those needs?’” Holmes said. “Is there a way we can expand at the current location or do we need to look at building a new facility?”

The open house is part of the first phase of a study the NAG is conducting with consultants Nordicity and Iredale Architecture with funding from the Nanaimo Hospitality Association and the City of Nanaimo. Holmes said she’s hoping the consultants will have their report finished by the end of March, but that won’t be the end of the process.

“We just found out a few weeks ago that we were successful with our application for funding from Canadian Heritage for a second phase of a feasibility study,” Holmes said. “So we understand this is a long-term project and we just want to, all the way along, have opportunities for people to give feedback and share ideas.”

WHAT’S ON … Nanaimo Art Gallery open house at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, 150 Commercial St., on Feb. 18 from 3 to 7 p.m.

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