ArtZone Sun Peaks kept busy during pandemic

Local arts organization has been busy expanding and planning over this past year

“Off the Hill” is showing at the Kamloops Art Gallery until April 17. Photo by Bill Fell.

Sun Peaks’ local arts non-profit has redoubled its efforts to improve the community’s arts offerings over the last year, bucking a provincial trend that has seen many non-profits contemplating closure due to financial troubles. 

Marj Knive, president of ArtZone Sun Peaks, said the organization has largely focussed on creating gallery opportunities for local artists to display and sell their art, and has actually managed to expand its exhibition locations.

“I feel we are going to come out of the pandemic stronger and be able to really focus in on some of the things that we’ve planned,” said Knive. 

ArtZone recently struck a deal with the local chapter of Sotheby’s International Realty to display art in its listing properties, giving local artists a built in audience for their work. The organization already has ongoing arrangements with Vertical Café and Tourism Sun Peaks, which sees them display art in their venues that can then be sold. 

 “We also put a lot of effort into our membership drive this year in order to make sure that we got membership dollars that we needed to carry on,” added Knive. 

Knive added that the organization has also worked to put on a show at the Kamloops Courthouse Gallery. Entitled Off the Hill, it will feature 52 pieces and be on display until April 17. 

Knive said the only thing that has been suffering for the organization has been its educational mandate. In-person workshops have been ground to a halt, but ArtZone has used this period to arrange new opportunities when things loosen up. 

These include a painting workshop with David Langevin as well as an upcoming workshop on the art of macrame. 

“As soon as we’re able to, we’ll go forward with them,” said Knive.  

The experience of ArtZone stands in contrast to the debilitating experience that many B.C. nonprofits are experiencing. 

A recent report from the Vancouver Foundation, Vantage Point and the Victoria Foundation of  over 900 B.C. nonprofits a discovered that many were facing a financial crisis on account of the pandemic. 

Forty eight percent of of B.C. organizations anticipate needing to close down if the current situation continues (20 per cent within the next year), and 71 per cent said they are expecting a budget shortfall in 2021.

According to the report, B.C.’s non-profit sector contributes $6.4 billion to the province’s GDP.

Joel Barde is a reporter hired with funding from the Local Journalism Initiative, a federal program created to support “original civic journalism that covers the diverse needs of underserved communities across Canada.” His writing is focused on the tourism industry in the Thompson Okanagan from the resident perspective.

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