June 4, 2019

When you’ve been around for 40 years, it’s inevitable that some pretty special people will come through your halls. At Arts Umbrella, there’s a feeling of pride and excitement when we get to bring guests through the building, to classrooms where students are in the midst of expressing themselves in new and inspiring ways. It’s an incredible feeling, and it never gets old.

In November, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, visited Arts Umbrella as part of his first West Coast trip since becoming Minister. Because it’s always exciting to have a high-profile guest—especially one from Ottawa—we invited our Board and Building Project donors to make an afternoon of it.

The Minister only had a set amount of time to visit with us. Fortunately, he arrived early and we were able to drop into one of the Visual Arts studios. Instructor Emily Nguyen and her Drawing & Painting class showed Minister Rodriguez their works-in-progress: engaging pieces combining watercolours with oil pastel to create textured, layered works.

The Minister then made his way to one of our dance studios to watch a performance by Arts Umbrella Dance Company. Our dancers performed an excerpt of Bliss by Johan Inger, set on the Arts Umbrella Dance Company by Yvan Dubreil. The Department of Canadian Heritage provides annual funding to Arts Umbrella Dance, so this was an opportunity for Minister Rodriguez to see first-hand what this federal funding supports. After the performance, Minister Rodriguez said a few words.

“The Government of Canada, through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, is proud of our contribution to Arts Umbrella’s new home and also to their dance program through the Canada Arts Training Fund. The thousands of children and youth in the Arts Umbrella community will benefit not just now, but throughout their lives, as we know the very positive and tangible effect an arts education can have. The wonderful thing about this project is that it will serve as a community for many generations of British Columbians.”

The project Minister Rodriguez mentioned is, of course, the renovation of Arts Umbrella’s new home on Granville Island, the former Emily Carr University of Art + Design South Building. In March 2018, the Department of Canadian Heritage announced a historic $7-million contribution to our Building Project through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.

Paul Larocque, Arts Umbrella President & CEO, also took the opportunity to thank Minister Rodriguez and his department for their support of Arts Umbrella. “Arts Umbrella is constantly pushing boundaries,” he said. “This new building will allow us to keep our forward momentum and provide young people with limitless opportunities. We are incredibly grateful for the Government of Canada for their generous support.”

As we walked Minister Rodriguez over to the pre-construction building for a photo, we were able to discuss the exciting opportunities this new building brings—for Arts Umbrella and the greater arts community. The new space will more than double Arts Umbrella’s net square footage, allow for innovative spaces and new technologies, provide increased access to arts education programs for children and youth, and enable us expand our significant and ongoing contribution to the creative economy.

Arts Umbrella was delighted to host the Honourable Minister Pablo Rodriguez during his first trip out West, and we’re thrilled to share the magic of our classrooms and talk about a bright future together. Until next time!