Loretta Puckrin

Loretta Puckrin

Barbecue draws dozens to talk arts and culture

The Cowichan Lake Arts and Culture Council is one step closer to becoming a reality

The Cowichan Lake Arts and Culture Council is one step closer to becoming a reality, although whether or not that’s what it will be called remains to be determined.

On June 24, more than 30 artists of all stripes — painters, potters, singers, wood workers, photographers and more — gathered for a barbecue at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena to discuss the future development of a regional arts and culture initiative that would receive funding from the CVRD.

“One of the discussion points [was] people said we can’t call it ‘the arts and culture centre’ because people hear arts, they say ‘Oh I don’t paint’ and away they go. So there’s a whole discussion of what do we call it?” said group facilitator and Lake Cowichan based artist Loretta Puckrin.

Puckrin said the Cowichan Lake Arts and Culture Council is just a working name for the group, and the “culture” dimension is being interpreted broadly and could include social groups in the area like the Kinsmen/Kinettes or the Boy Scouts.

“Why not?” she said.

The group decided to host a barbecue rather than a traditional sit-down meeting because it wanted to liven up the information-gathering process and increase turnout.

They brainstormed ideas, shared commitment levels and ranked priorities in terms of the programs and services that should be available to the artistic community.

“The overall feeling is yes, we want a permanent location. It has to be all-inclusive because part of the objective they [the CVRD] want is so there’s more dialogue between creative people who don’t belong to groups,” said Puckrin.

A central location could include an office, a meeting rental space and a display area for art. It could also include artist studios. Puckrin said having a hub for Lake artists would enable actors to connect with musicians, for example, or painters to connect with sculptors; artists would be able to find collaborators through the centre.

Puckrin said that even if an arts centre was located in Lake Cowichan, that doesn’t mean the group would have to hold all its events there.

Another recurring theme raised during the barbecue was the need for an arts and culture group to be a teaching entity.

“So it wasn’t just there to promote full-time artists. It was there to pass along information, to encourage new people to experience the art, to help the youngsters understand and get mentorship. So it was [about] outreach and growth,” said Puckrin.

At this stage, the group is still seeking more input and ideas from the broader Cowichan Lake community.

“There are a lot of people out there who are interested in arts and culture, a lot of whom are not ‘joiners,’” said Puckrin. “I would sure like them to email me.”

The CVRD’s funding initiative for arts and culture throughout the valley came about as a result of a 2015 report recommending a single arts and culture authority for the entire region. The board preferred a sub-regional approach with funding allocated based on population. Consequently, the Cowichan Lake sub-region will receive $5,500 but only after the group here has official society status.

To share your thoughts or ideas for a future arts and culture organization for Cowichan Lake, you can reach Loretta Puckrin at loretta@puckrin.com.