Rails End enters 50th year with solid foundation 0
Time to celebrate.
The Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre is looking forward to its 50th year as they announced the repayment of a $46,389 loan to the Haliburton County Development Corporation at its annual general meeting last month.
This falls on the heels of their repayment of a $33,855 loan from Dysart Township a year earlier. Both loans helped with the renovation and the raising of the building in 2006.
Besides great effort by volunteers to fundraise and generous contributions by supporters, the gallery paid its debt by eliminating one fulltime staff member, utilizing its valuable corps of 20 volunteers (with 60 for the Arts and Crafts Festival) and applying energy efficient measures such as insulating the ceiling and the perimeter of the foundation (thanks to a Trillium Grant), and improving the tracking system of sold goods, in the gift shop.
Gallery executive director Laurie Jones is excited to move forward and celebrate the golden anniversary next year while continuing to serve the community. Fundraising must continue.
“By no means can we let up on fundraising we do because there is always something else,” Jones said.
They aim to insulate the drafty former train station building and formalize plans for an improved kitchen and storage areas for better functionality.
Insulation is ongoing challenge for the building, but Jones believes any other structure wouldn’t have the same character, charm or draw for the public.
The renovations enabled the gallery to be a year round facility. It presents the community with exhibitions and supported local artists with its members’ show, a show for Fleming College instructors and the high school students’ show. Many are given their first opportunity to exhibit their work in the gallery.
The gallery’s next exhibition is Seldom Seen: Traces of a War by artist Scott Waters who was an artist in the Canadian Forces Artists Program from 2006 to 2011. This show is from Oct. 20 to Jan. 12.
Jones, who appreciates the ongoing financial support by the municipality, said the membership grew by 22 per cent and attributes it to an active membership drive, encouragement for renewals, profile raising efforts using brochures and comment cards for feedback and through events such as Colourfest, children’s art programming and other free community events.
The gallery can now set its focus on celebration. Events are being planned around annual events such as the Arts and Crafts Festival and the year will be highlighted by a gala event in September or October. The anniversary celebrations will commence with participation in the upcoming Haliburton Santa Claus parade.
Vicki Sisson, who has been president for three years, has experienced the ups and downs in her 10 years with the gallery. She credits Jones with the achievement.
“I’ve seen the gallery come from near disaster bankruptcy to having the new foundation put underneath and bringing Laurie [Jones] on board … she’s done a phenomenal job for us with her creativity and her energy. And seeing these debts were paid off,” she said. “We’re on such solid ground financially. We’ve become more of a focus on the community. I think we’re a destination in the community and we like to keep that momentum going.”