With a little flexibility and innovative thinking, The Arts Station made a successful switch to alternative virtual programming in light of COVID-19 related restrictions. According to Louise Ferguson, executive director of The Arts Station, despite the short notice of program adjustments, instructors are happily surprised with the number of participants joining courses and classes.
One adjustment The Arts Station made is to host their open studio over Zoom on Wednesday nights from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Organized as a way to creatively connect while in self isolation, the weekly meeting offers artists both the opportunity to share their latest projects, as well as the chance to gain inspiration from one another. Select participants even have virtual gallery shows on The Arts Station website, wherein each piece is available both for viewing and purchase.
Throughout the month, Brina Schenk will also be hosting $20 drop in art workshops for school aged children, called Drawing with Brina. Presented through Zoom on Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., the course is targeted towards teaching kids to draw using supplies available at home. Going over drawing techniques, Schenk employs a whimsical storytelling approach that is both enjoyable and appealing in order to engage children. The course will kick off with four weeks of fun, after which more classes may be scheduled depending on interest and the COVID-19 situation.
At this time, The Arts Station will also be holding hour long webinars geared towards clarifying the administrative side of the arts. The classes, called Virtual Professional Development for Artists, are created for artists seeking to further develop as professionals in the industry. Topics covered include calls for entry, standard and professional practices, and self promotion.
The idea for these classes struck after The Arts Station updated their gallery policy and procedure, realizing artists did not have the training nor experience needed to apply for their offerings. As a result, they decided to run the classes once a year, ahead of The Arts Station gallery’s call for entry opening in the spring.
“It is normally a one day workshop but we adapted it to a virtual format with four one hour sessions via Zoom. It is free to attend, you just need to register. Each week a different topic is covered, so you can attend all of the sessions or dip into the one that you wish to have more help with,” said Ferguson. “For the week of April 10, we will talk about some basic marketing approaches: social media, websites. etc. Last week, we talked about being gallery ready, which includes the presentation of your work, having written information prepared, pricing, and more. Anyone is welcome to join, but it would be most beneficial to emerging artists who are looking to develop their career and take the next steps.”
Yet another virtual offering are art history lessons hosted by The Arts Station program officer, Jackie Graham. The first session of Art History with Jackie was scheduled for April 10, and the following classes fall on subsequent Fridays at 3 p.m. on their Youtube channel. The videos will feature a new prolific artist each week, covering their artistic style, biography, reviewing various work, and leaving participants with a weekly creative challenge.
To ease isolation related boredom, The Arts Station is also currently accepting applications for their sixteenth annual Banner Project. The project sources local artwork to cover the 39 available banners that decorate both Highway 3 and downtown. According to Ferguson, public art brings vibrancy and identity to Fernie. Projects such as this one are important for showcasing the Elk Valley’s culture, while also giving local artists the opportunity to share their work. The contest is open to Elk Valley artists of all ages and allows for the use of a variety of mediums including painting, stained glass, quilts, pottery, photography, and sculpture. A maximum of two pieces of art will be accepted per artist. Highly regarded by the adjudicators is the use of striking imagery, vibrant colours, creative themes, and any other tactics that make the pieces eye catching from a distance. With plenty of time to put creativity to the test, the deadline for submissions is April 20 at 2 p.m. For more information, regulations, or to submit an application, head to The Arts Station website at Theartsstation.com.