THE GRASS ROOTS INITIATIVE
The Grass Roots cultural initiative is proposed model for economic and cultural cooperation. It gives artists and cultural agents access to temporary space, and financially benefits property owners and developers showcasing their buildings. The grass roots initiative would allow spaces that are currently vacant or idle within our community, (storefronts, warehouses or other buildings) to be used for art exhibitions or cultural events that are temporary, short-term or one time. Projects can include a wide variety of forms including performance, slam poetry and spoken word, traditional visual arts, non traditional and craft oriented works, installations and multi-media projects.
Pilot projects have included a pair of 2 week group exhibitions by local artist with opening receptions/concerts in the summer of 2010: The Grass Roots initiative Kick of Party and the Bullrush Solution, a collaboratively curated exhibition and community fundraiser with local artist and inventor Gabe Cipes. These exhibitions were both held at the former Collective Realty location downtown Kelowna in the summer of 2010.
Shortly afterwards an agreement was made to use the unused building at 1476 Pandosy for the self curated project Discust(t)?: conversations on the male body.
Creating accessible venues for young and emerging artists opens up another dimension to the Okanagan Art scene that allows for temporary, non sale-able and challenging artworks that are in many cases, unable to be shown elsewhere in the Okanagan. This relationship is beneficial to both the cultural community and the local real estate economy.The GRI is able to inject cultural activity, energy, publicity and community interest into buildings and areas of town that otherwise remain stagnant and derelict.
By using buildings that are already vacant there is no out of pocket cost to the property owner and because the projects are short term (one day, a week, at longest three weeks) the space is available to be sold or rented for the next month. As the project takes places the building becomes a highly visible site of cultural activity with a number of tangible financial benefits for the building owner and the local economy. There is an impressive history which shows buildings in the Okanagan being used for cultural events being sold and developed almost immediately :
-In 2000-2001,the old laurel building hosted one of the original Cake Walk Arts Festivals. By 2002 the building was renovated and turned into what is now the Rotary Centre for the Arts.
-In 2004, a run-down building at 248 Leon Avenue was the site of one of the Dutone Arts festivals. Shortly afterwards it too was sold and is now the Habitat.
-After another Duotone festival, this time held at the old CN Train station in 2006, the festival acquired the interest of buyers, and the building is currently being developed into a restaurant.
The Grass Roots Initiative is grateful to the architects who came before us and set this culture in motion with events like CakeWalk, DuoTone and Conduit, as well the unknown others who came before them.
Press for the grass roots initiative
Links related to the grass roots Initiative and the Okanagan Arts Scene
Definatley the most important tool to hit the Okanagan Art community in recent years. Its a free email list serve and Blog run by Artist Katie Brennan. (she's doing this without being paid!) Being in the know is indispensable for any artist or art art organization in the Okanagan.
The Creative Sector In Kelowna British Columbia: An Economic Impact Assessment
Professor Bernard Momer publisheshed a recent study which shows how the Arts Community here in Kelowna contributes a very tangible $144 M into our local economy annually. A Good reason to make sure that local culture gets active!
( Download the pdf below or use the link to the UBC O site above.)
The City Of Arlington has already done what the GRI wants to do. And they literally wrote a handbook that shows how they did it. One of the main points? Granting space instead of cash. a great bluprint that has already succeeded indoing what the GRI is meant to do "By using old spaces in new ways, by centralizing the use of these spaces and other resources, by cultivating local talent and by attracting first-rate artists to the area." (Download the PDF for the handbook or use the website above.)