Fraser planning downtown creative arts center
The town of Fraser continues to establish itself as a sanctuary for the arts in the county, making progress in founding the Fraser Center for the Creative Arts, a live and work facility meant to act as a creative hub for residents and visitors.
“This comes out of a lot of the community conversation we had when we went through two or three different downtown Fraser planning initiatives, and we were talking about what this community is,” said Jeff Durbin, Fraser town manager. “The message came through loud and clear that the creative industries, and those fresh, funky and quirky aspects are what Fraser is all about.”
The center, located on the same plot of land as the incoming Fraser Stills distillery in Frodo, will serve as a live/work space for a visiting artist every year, who will get to live for free in the Fraser Valley, study and create works of art. In exchange, the visiting artist will reimburse the town via commissions on their work, giving lectures, teaching classes or other art-related payments.
The ground floor of the facility will include the artist’s living area, a classroom, a studio, and a gallery where local and regional artists can display their work. The second floor, and potentially a third, will include workforce housing apartments. Once completed, residents and visitors will be encouraged to come take classes and create their own works.
“The Public Arts Committee was immensely helpful in narrowing this down and talking about how this is something that’s actually achievable, that really works, that people will use and enjoy, that can serve as a kind of nucleus for the creative community in the valley,” said Durbin.
The center is the latest step the town is taking to show its support for the arts.
The Fraser Mural Program will return for its second year this spring, as will the newly established rotating sculpture program.
Durbin said that the goal is to begin site development by the end of the year, and that the facility will likely be up and running in 2019. He also noted that while the town may have to recruit an artist for the first year, the town hopes the program will eventually develop a competitive application process attracting artists from all over the country.
“The first year we might have to recruit somebody,” said Durbin. “But in future years people would apply, we would review and select. In general the hope is that this becomes something of a draw, where people around the nation want to come live in the Fraser Valley for a year and create their works in a great facility.”
The project is still in its relative infancy, with design and architecture work still being decided on. That means the price tag is also a mystery for the time being. Durbin said the town would likely rely on fundraising efforts to help raise money for the project, on top of town investments.
“We can create momentum, and we can show people what a great place this can be,” said Durbin. “Once we can start generating that momentum we can rally around this and make it happen … this is just a great opportunity for Fraser. It’s something that can be unique and really special for not only the community, but for visitors alike.”
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