When you think of Moosomin, you might not immediately think of a burgeoning arts community. But if Krista Crellin’s plans come to fruition, Moosomin will be a hot spot of gallery shows, top-notch instructors, and artists in residence.

Crellin is the founder of the Moosomin Visual Arts Centre which opened in February. As a professional photographer, a creative arts hub is something she always dreamed of having in Moosomin. When the town surveyed residents about what was lacking in Moosomin last year, she knew this was her chance to bring the idea forward. As a business owner in Moosomin for the last 18 years, she knows that making the town a great place to live, work, and play is key to residents’ long-term happiness and quality of life.

On the recommendation of Casey McCormac, the Town of Moosomin’s Economic Development Officer, Krista presented the idea to the Economic Development Committee and was encouraged to reach out to the community to pursue the project. She recruited other local artists including Jacqui Beckett, a well-known local artist, and Terry Grant, the chair of the Moosomin Arts and District Council (MADAC). Grant, himself an amazing potter and community advocate, was instrumental in helping the Visual Arts Centre gain non-profit status so it could receive donations. The Centre now has a 13-person board guiding its operations and vision into the future. A passion project from the beginning, the group has spent countless volunteer hours recruiting members, planning classes, raising money, and searching for a home.

Funding for a project this big has been its greatest challenge. The group has been successful in obtaining a three-year grant of $150,000 from the Town of Moosomin to make the Centre a reality. These funds have allowed them to lease a space big enough to suit their current needs and give them room to grow in the future.

Finding such a space was another challenge, but a rental agreement with the Anglican Church has turned out to be a win-win for both groups. The Church receives rent to help with its finances and the Centre has access to large spaces for its various studios, a kitchen for cooking classes, and room for storage. Sharing the building with a daycare and play school has made it easy for kids and parents to take advantage of arts and crafts, cooking, and painting classes. MVAC is thrilled to offer its first kids’ camp this summer.

Many art forms, such as pottery and stained glass, require very specialized and expensive equipment. In the past, some Moosomin residents were traveling all the way to Melville and Birtle, Manitoba to access kilns, stained glass, and quilting equipment. Providing local and affordable access to this equipment and studio space is welcomed by many.

MVAC’s board has big dreams for the future – there are plans to host gallery shows, invite out-of-town instructors, and potentially create an artist-in-residence program. “Residency programs vary from place to place, but often an artist in residence is someone who works in the space rent-free and receives a stipend for food and lodging. In return, they may teach classes and provide times for people to come and watch them work, ask questions, and learn from them,” says Crellin.

There is still more work to be done. MVAC is looking for sponsors to help fund a wish list of equipment for the Centre including more kitchen equipment, sewing machines, another pottery kiln, and pottery wheels. They would also like to hire an additional employee and expand the Centre’s hours.

“This has been a lot of work, but a very rewarding process. I hope that it is long-lasting, that we can build a thriving arts community that is here to stay.”

The Moosomin Visual Arts Centre wishes to thank the following people and groups for their support along the way:

  • Kiln and wheel – donated by Dr. Kristin Foy worth $8,000
  • $10,000 donation from Moosomin Thrift Store
  • IJack donation of $2,000 – used to purchase a long-arm quilting machine
  • Borderland Co-op – $15,000 grant for digital art studio equipment
  • Darlene Strong for funding and creating the glass studio
  • Glasser’s TV Service donated a 75″ smart TV worth approximately $1,800
  • Jacqui Beckett – donated a clay slab roller for pottery studio worth $2,000
  • Casey McCormac for bringing this project to the attention of the EDC, writing up the budget, and grant writing
  • The World-Spectator for helping to build awareness of the project
  • Many other monetary donations from community members and businesses
  • Numerous donations of new and used craft supplies from the community