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New Cowichan Lake Arts Centre opens in Youbou

CLAC features art shop, open studio, workshop space and will be used as an entertainment venue

Local creators can now unite at the new Cowichan Lake Arts Centre in Youbou at 10375 Youbou Rd. where imagination meets expression and community thrives.

The new centre celebrated a soft opening with its members and volunteers on April 27 and 28, which allowed them to go through the processes they had in place, and gave their volunteers the opportunity to work through the system. The new centre will feature an art shop for local creators, an open studio where artists can create for free, space for CLAC workshops and a venue for art exhibitions, music performances, and more.

“We have had a permanent home as one of our goals right from the start when we incorporated in December of 2016,” said Cowichan Lake Arts and Culture Society president Loretta Puckrin. “The Cowichan Lake Arts Centre will fulfill a two-fold purpose, it is a place for local artists and artisans to sell their products in a sheltered environment year-round. It also provides a workshop area so we can offer more classes as well as having a larger area for one person shows, and we are holding open studio days where members can meet for no cost. This will help to create a community and input for creatives who normally work in isolation.”

READ MORE: Beat the COVID Blues’ with Cowichan Lake Arts and Culture Society

The Cowichan Valley Regional District, the major funder for CLACS, does not allow for their funding to be used towards a facility, so Puckrin said that making this dream a reality has taken years with the raising of funds through their hot dog sales, sales of original donated works, membership sales, 50/50 tickets, and any other methods they could manage with their membership. An individual one-year membership for CLAC is only $20, with lower rates available for students, and bulk rates for families. Separate fees for workshops will vary based on the costs of the supplied materials.

“Our objective is to break even and our instructors mostly teach without remuneration,” said Puckrin. “This makes it the most affordable in the Cowichan Valley. We need to be, as a high a percentage of our population is either fixed income or young families. Visitors pay a non-member price for the first workshop they sign up in a year which includes a one-year membership so every consecutive workshop in a 12-month period can be at the member price.”

There are a number of upcoming workshops creatives can look out for including a paper clay fully fired workshop, and an encaustic workshop where attendees will learn to create images using beeswax, resin, pigment and heat. CLAC also plan to offer an array of member only free workshops during the fall and winter.

“We will then break for the summer as we find people want to be outside in the wonderful weather,” said Puckrin. “The fall will start with Nerikomi, a Japanese method of using coloured clay to create patterns, and there likely will be another watercolour class in the fall as that is always of interest to our residents.”

CLACS officially signed the lease of their new art residence at their February AGM, and took possession on March 1. Several items were donated to the new digs including tables, chairs, kitchen appliances, and even their phone. The centre is run entirely on a volunteer basis, and those who want to exhibit their work need to commit to a minimum of eight volunteer hours at the store.

“Everyone is trained so an interesting spin-off is the we are training people on taking credit cards which they are using in their off-site sales,” said Puckrin. “Everyone benefits. This will give residents and visitors a view of how creative our communities are and enable them to buy gifts either for themselves or others at a very reasonable price where they can be assured that the majority of the purchase price goes to the artist.”

Check out Youbou’s new small and spirited arts community by visiting CLAC Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 4 p.m. For more information email

“We have seen a great excitement in the creative community,” said Puckrin. “Every week, even before we were open, people came in to check out the offerings and many wanted to know how they could get their product in our shop. We hope to create a sense of community where we can share knowledge, ideas, get educated feedback on our work, enjoy the company of like-minded people, sell our products so that we can afford to continue to create, with the end result of putting smiles on everyone’s faces, both customers and artists alike.”