A grand experiment in community collaboration

In the small town where the Riverbend Artists work and show their art, the town council, the Historical Society and the artists collaborated to create a Community Information Centre, Museum and Gallery as a place for residents to meet and see the arts and the history of the town.  Residents of the town brought in their memorabilia, the artists displayed their art work, and the town provided a place to pick up information about events in the community.  Art work changed throughout the time period and residents brought in and then took out their memorabilia as themes changed.  The artists created and put up a display system used by all.  Volunteers managed the Centre.  Since July 1st, 2017 in excess of 1500 visitors from all over the province of Ontario, other Canadian Provinces, Europe, USA,  came for a visit.

the Riverbend Artists held a show and sale July 1st and 400 visitors came into the Centre -without advertising.  The Artists just finished  their Yuletide Art Show and Sale in the Centre.

The store front on Main Street was long and we kept the old, original floors.  Visitors walked through the information area and then through the artists' works to the heritage pieces at the back.
The pews donated provided seating for those who visited.  You can see the table of artists' works and the display on the wall.  Paintings, quilts, and metal work were displayed on the opposite wall as well.  The display system was used by the Historical Society to hang their vintage clothing and sports memorabilia.  Men enjoyed coming into the Centre to see and reminisce about the sports and farm items.

In the back room, quilters worked as a quilting bee creating a large hand embroidered quilt.  School classes came to see the heritage items.  Many of the children knew some of the people who had brought in items (some were their own relatives) and in the photos throughout the museum part.

Thanks to a committee of three spirited and courageous women (my wife was one of them) the Centre flourished for 7 months.  The town  covered the costs as the Centre was a project for Canada's 150 Celebrations.  As of December 31 the grand experiment will come to a close as the lease runs out.  Debate about maintaining the Centre became an issue, but became moot with the end of the lease.

Such a collaborative effort was a bright light in the county.  Tourism Boards indicated that such a Centre could be a tourist attraction for the town and thus a viable economic driver.

We will see whether or not the town might reorganize the Information Centre, Museum and Gallery as an information and economic entity for the benefit of the town.


Popular Posts