Who is Arts Quinte West?
In 2008 a group of ten people sat around a table and discussed the need and feasibility of forming a group dedicated to arts and culture in Quinte West --- and Arts Quinte West was created. Today, AQW is entering its fifth year of operation and as they say, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”.
The official mandate of the group is “to bring together people of all disciplines of the Arts with a common goal to encourage, promote and showcase their talents by staging appropriate events in Quinte West thereby raising awareness of the Arts and enhancing the quality of life in the community.”
Suffice to say, the group has been successful in achieving its aims.
Since those humble beginnings, AQW now boasts a membership of over 50 members including award-winning visual artists, artisans, photographers, musicians, and members involved in local theatre. Local businesses have also come on board, by joining as corporate members. The City of Quinte West and the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce provide much needed financial and promotional support each year. In the past two years the group has actively courted student members --- the next generation of artists --- and hopes to expand an active mentorship role between established and young artists. There is also a family membership program.
You may have also seen examples of beautiful artwork in many of the businesses in the community as well as in the foyer at City Hall and the offices of the local MP and MPP. AQW runs an art showcase program which allows members to hang their work for a period of several months in local offices, medical office and retail stores. This is a win-win for both the artist and the “host” involved; the artist gets a chance to showcase their work, and the business gets fresh new artwork on a regular basis, as well as a reputation for being a supporter of the art community.
In 2010 the group launched an attractive website (artsquintewest.ca), a real perk for artists who wish to reach a larger audience but may not have the time or resources to create or maintain their own website. Members can regularly upload images of their artwork, biographies or participate in the group’s blog. Created by local web design firm poloDesign, the site and guides new members who are not “tech savvy” to participate. It seems to be working; to date over 11,000 have viewed the site.
Many members are also active on the group’s Facebook (facebook.com/artsquintewest), using social media to let other members, the community and fans know about the many events throughout the year as well as individual show updates and
AQW maintains a presence and high profile at many of the local community events such as the Quinte West Home and Leisure Show (April), Downtown Trenton’s Festival on the Bay (July), the Scottish-Irish Festival (September) and the successful Savour Festival of Food and Drink put on by the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce (October).
In addition, the group itself hosts several well-attended events each year including Arts UpFront ,a collaborative pairing of artists with businesses along Front Street for a day (this year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 23). The first annual Arts Extravaganza Show and Sale, held in November 2011 in collaboration with the Trenton High School Arts Program, was a real success; this year’s goal is to expand the event with more artists and greater student participation. Updates on this November’s show will be available on the AQW website.
Even more exciting is the launch of AQW’s very own Gallery of Fine Art, opening June 14, 2012, at 84 Dundas Street, in a pilot project running until August 31. (editor's note: the Gallery is now closed) This initiative is in line with similar endeavours happening in Brighton, Belleville and Campbellford, and will provide members with a “home” in which to display work, meet as a group, and present workshops for both other members and the community at large. The gallery will provide an opportunity for the local community as well as visitors to the region to get a glimpse at the wonderful talent and creativity of AQW members during the busy downtown tourist season. The Gallery will be entirely staffed by members and works will be available for sale. More information will be provided in the coming weeks about the Grand Opening on June 14, 2012.
General membership meetings are held three or four times a year, and normally include an invited speaker or a demonstration on various art mediums by members. Guests are welcome to attend and contribute.
More information and contact information on Arts Quinte West can be found on their website: artsquintewest.ca.
This article was originally published in Artisan's Bay Magazine in July 2012.