Chemainus Foods is still considered the primary location for a regional arts centre, although that’s still to be worked out and CVCAS isn’t ruling out other sites. Below, Brad Grigor during a previous public presentation about the regional arts centre concept at the Chemainus Legion Hall last year. (File photos by Don Bodger)

Strategic plan developed for a regional arts centre in Chemainus

Community asked how it would benefit from and use this type of facility

The Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society is moving forward with plans to create a regional arts centre.

“Everybody we’ve talked to in a consulting capacity has indicated the timing is good for this type of venue,” said Brad Grigor, one of the members of the A-Team looking into all aspects of a multi-faceted arts centre for Chemainus. “We’re encouraged by that.”

Besides Grigor, a digital artist at Turning Point Arts, the other members of the A-Team committee are: Chrissy Kemppi, Cowichan Neighbourhood House; Josh James, Economic Development Officer for Penelakut First Nation; Lori Frankson, Executive Director, Chemainus & District Chamber of Commerce; Peggy Grigor, General Manager, Rainforest Arts Gallery & CVCAS board member; Peter Collum, Media Manager, Chemainus Festival of Murals Society; Tom Andrews, President, Chemainus Festival of Murals Society; and Wendy Lambert, Coordinator at Chemainus Crofton Community Schools Association.

“Having this arts centre not only stimulates economic development, it’ll meet the growing needs of the citizen population,” Brad Grigor indicated.

The CVCAS Strategic Plan was recently released that has received unanimous endorsement from the many consultants and stakeholders the committee has met in the past 10 months, including Vancouver Island Tourism’s Calum Mathews and Tourism Cowichan’s Miranda Thorne, as well as other specialists in marketing, branding, business management, co-op business structure and arts centre development.

“Tourism Cowichan, they absolutely endorse what we’re doing is spot-on,” said Grigor. “They see a growth in tourism traffic of 3 1/2 per cent in the foreseeable future in the Cowichan region.”

One of the primary marketing opportunities being addressed that falls into Lambert’s area of expertise is the projected population growth for the area, as evidenced from school statistics, plus the forecasted increases in tourism traffic, especially for this region.

“It implies the need for more attractions to be developed to support that,” noted Grigor.

The centre is also seen as a place that could house travelling art exhibitions that need environmentally-controlled facilities as well as many music, drama, dance and speaking performances that are too small to be accommodated in the nearby Port Theatre in Nanaimo or Island Savings Centre in Duncan.

The vision for the Chemainus Cultural Arts Centre is a world-class, regional arts centre in Chemainus or vicinity to serve the citizens and the economy of North Cowichan and the Cowichan region. It would be a place to entertain, inform, amuse, educate, inspire, and bring people together while contributing to the local economy.

The primary location is still considered the old Chemainus Foods property, in the heart of Chemainus. But the committee feels it is important to first develop a credible marketing and business plan and then find the most suitable property that fulfills the plan.

There are many other facets to the Strategic Plan and the committee would like to encourage arts centre advocates to send an email to to request a copy and join the mailing list. Feedback is being sought on how people would use or benefit from an arts centre in the region.

Copies of the plan are also available at Rainforest Arts.

The next step is to fund a professional feasibility study to be completed by June.

“We’ve reached the end of what a volunteer can do without bringing in the professionals,” explained Grigor.


Brad Grigor during a previous public presentation about the regional arts centre concept at the Chemainus Legion Hall last year. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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