There have been enough events held at the former garage on Canyon Street and 15th Avenue in recent years to know that it is a pretty cool location for an art show. But Sunday night’s Arts and Culture Week opening festivities seemed to have an entirely different air.
The difference, no doubt, is that the building is soon to become the Ingham Arts and Culture Centre. To most of us, the recent revelation that the building was to be made available for such a use came as a complete surprise. It was fair to assume, I think, that when owner Al Ingham died the property would be sold to the highest bidder as his estate was disbursed.
Al Ingham was a well-known successful businessman long before I arrived in Creston. He had a keen intellect and was passionate in his love for the Creston Valley. Many years ago I wrote a column that he took exception to. But instead of writing a letter to the editor or just badmouthing me around town, he took the very gentlemanly tack of inviting me to his home to discuss the issue. We didn’t part in agreement, but I will always remember the civility with which he made his case and the hospitality he and his wife, Lil, showed me on that day.
When Ingham allowed the first art show to be held in that building several years ago, some of the people involved were so excited by the possibilities it offered as a permanent arts centre that they discussed trying to purchase it for that use. Nothing came of it, though, but Ingham continued to make it available for art shows when the building wasn’t being rented to another business.
The building is far from perfect. It needs lots of work, but the central and very visible location, and close proximity to parking, give it lots of appeal. And its setback from Canyon Street makes it possible for outdoor displays and small events to be placed at the front of the premises. In addition to the front area, the garage space at the rear could be turned into a small performance venue or working space for artists. The garage doors on the front, should they be kept after the renovations are complete, make it very easy for indoor-outdoor event planning.
The Art Garage, as many have referred to it as since that first art show, is a very nice concept, and a lasting tribute to a man who cared so deeply about his home community. Whatever form it takes, the Ingham Arts and Culture Centre will fill an obvious void in the Creston Valley. This community has, in the last decade, exploded as a haven for some extraordinarily creative and accomplished people and we have been without a permanent public space to show their work. The inclusion of a CIDO radio broadcasting centre is a nice marriage, too. The location’s visibility will give a helpful boost to CIDO activities and raise public awareness about its largely untapped potential.
For this space to have been made available for arts and culture activities is a tremendous blessing to our community. It has the potential to promote and celebrate our pool of local talent and to be an attraction for visitors. As a Creston Valley resident and a person who knew Al Ingham for many years, I think the Ingham family is deserving of our thanks for giving us an opportunity that we had no right to expect. It is a fitting tribute to a man who played a very important role in the development of our community.
Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.