Concept for Semiahmoo Arts' new home at the Mel Edwards Centre.

Concept for Semiahmoo Arts' new home at the Mel Edwards Centre.

Arts society finalizes new headquarters

Vacant Mel Edwards Centre to become home for Peninsula organization

Semiahmoo Arts has a new home.

The organization (formerly the White Rock and District Community Arts Council) signed a lease Tuesday with the city of White Rock for the Mel Edwards Centre at Centennial Park.

The building – used only for storage since the Centre For Active Living replaced the old Peace Arch Curling Club facility – will be reopened in January providing rental space for art displays, art workshops, rehearsals and some workshop performances as well as a permanent office for Semiahmoo Arts.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a full-fledged arts centre, but we’re moving in that direction,” Semiahmoo Arts’ executive director Patrick Reynolds said.

The building provides a 960-sq.-ft. multi-purpose open space capable of holding an audience of some 60 people, he said, plus a small room suitable for a dressing room or ‘green room’, with a kitchen and two bathrooms.

“It’s not necessarily just a gallery – we’re not going to run the programs all the time, but we will be the umbrella group for arts activities taking place there, and there will be a small cost for rental of the facility, which will help us recoup the cost of the monthly lease,” he said.

The building will be ready for use as soon as it is repainted and re-equipped with chairs and tables, and receives a safety inspection clearance, Reynolds said.

“The only challenge with the space is going to be parking,” he said. “But there should be plenty of parking for activities, especially in the evenings. And parking is only $2 for the whole day so we’re not subject to the heavy rate down at the waterfront.”

Reynolds said the move is a good step to consolidate Semiahmoo Arts’ activities and give them a face and provide a ‘hub’ for groups at a time when the organization is reassessing its mandate.

“It’s in a position now where it has to figure out how it’s going to move forward. Because of the cuts to arts funding, particularly the gaming grants, there just isn’t the money to do a lot of things.”

The organization is currently in fund-raising mode, including an online auction of artwork that has been donated over the years.

For more information on the group and its Hidden Gems art auction, which runs to Dec. 14, visit www.semiahmooarts.com