Decreasing membership and a lack of community support during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the dissolution of the Airdrie Regional Art Society (ARTS) earlier this year.
The society disbanded its membership in March and has since been working toward selling off its remaining assets, with all proceeds going toward local charities.
Brian Wilson, vice-president of ARTS, said the decision to disband the group came as a result of diminished public support and interest in the society over the last year. He said a lack of membership and a declining number of board members made it so continuing was not a “viable reality.”
“Everybody was gung-ho and all of a sudden, things started to change and of course a lot of that is due to COVID,” he said. “[Public interest] fell off so fast that there was no way to save it.
“But I know it’s missed by a lot of people out there.”
According to a notice issued in March, the society sent out a vote to its membership base and 75 per cent of members voted in favour of dissolving the society.
“It’s sad. I was really kind of hoping that we could maybe just put it into a relaxed mode and then wait for another year or two,” Wilson said. “But with everything we’ve got, it was best just to dissolve the organization.”
ARTS was established in 2007 to encourage arts and cultural activities in Airdrie and the surrounding area. The society hoped to become the hub of the arts community in the city and to provide support and mentorship to local artists.
Since then, ARTS has carried out its mission to support a flourishing arts community through classes, showcases, lectures, and shows for adults and children. They have also provided an opportunity for local artists to become part of a large community directory of artists on the society’s website.
Wilson said that since he joined the society in 2019, ARTS has been heavily involved in ARTember – a signature artistic and cultural celebration in Airdrie held in September – and other showcase events in the city. However, he acknowledged a number of the society’s proposed events and projects had been kiboshed over the last year due to lack of support and funding.
“We were bashing our heads against the wall thinking ‘Why are we doing this?’,” he said. “In 2020, we had executive members [resigning] and that was sort of the nail in the coffin.”
Wilson said the society was paying for a yearly insurance policy and without sponsorship or funding, this was money the society did not have.
He added he hopes somewhere down the road that the City or another sponsor can help to support local artists in the same way that ARTS did throughout the last 14 years.
“There is a lot of excellent artists in the area,” he said. “It’s amazing how many we have – and good artists.
“And once you lose something like this, I think it hurts the city.”
ARTS is currently looking to sell showcase panels for $100 a piece with all proceeds going to the Airdrie Food Bank. For more information, please contact Brian Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on Twitter @carmenrcundy