EDITORIAL: West Shore is arts-ready

Community is ready to support a dedicated arts facility

A quick scan down the list of B.C. Arts Council grants for the most recent uptake period found a noticeable absence of West Shore arts and cultural organizations.

With the exception of a $9,041 cheque written to the West Shore Arts Council for operating assistance, and perhaps individual grants to artists living on the West Shore (hard to tell if there were any), there was no indication that groups here are getting government money to provide arts and cultural experiences to local residents and visitors to the West Shore.

Sure, organizations have municipal grants to help with operations, but the B.C. Arts Council grants list is generally a good indication of where the action is.

That brings us to the point of the need for a dedicated West Shore regional arts facility.

Residents from Metchosin to View Royal have attended events in the downtown core for decades, largely because there are few professional or high-level amateur productions that happen on West Shore.

Rock the Shores, one of the Capital Region’s largest music festivals, is a notable exception, but is held in a temporary venue at West Shore Parks and Recreation.

With roughly 70,000 residents to draw from – that’s close to 20 per cent of the region’s population base – the time is growing near for the “build it and they will come” mentality to extend to the arts community.

A recent low-tech residential survey undertaken by the City of Langford determined that more than anything else, people want to see an arts and culture facility built in the area. It’s one more way to keep West Shore residents on the West Shore.

It wouldn’t be good news for our municipal neighbours to the east and south, but it’s a sign of the times. Business has been moving out west for years now due to the population shift.

It’s time to start working on the creation of a community arts centre befitting the combined size of our communities, either through West Shore Parks and Recreation, the creation of a separate arts and cultural entity or maybe even our largest jurisdiction, Langford, moving forward on a similar partnership to City Centre Park to get such a facility built.

We know West Shore residents would support it, big-time.

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