Dear Town Council,
As a former President of the Arts Mosaic (formerly Virden Community Arts Council), I was disheartened to see the response from some of our Town’s Representatives in the Empire Advance (Feb. 19, 2021).
When the Town Council talks about attracting business to Virden, they seem to gloss over what the Arts Mosaic has done, and continues to do, for this community. Here is a summary so that Mayor Wright and the Council can be better informed about the history of the Arts Mosaic and come to appreciate and respect the value that the organization provides to Virden and surrounding area.
Created in 1981, the organization is a registered charity that is run by a volunteer Board of Directors. The day-to-day operations are managed by the Administrator, Christa Milne. The Costume Closet is an integral part of the Arts Mosaic and is operated by hardworking volunteers.
Instrumental in Restoration of the CP Station. In partnership with the Town of Virden, the Arts Mosaic raised the funds to restore this facility. This heritage building adds character to the Town and is an extraordinary asset to this area.
Provided quality entertainment at the Aud. The audiences were able to see performers such as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Jason McCoy, Frank Mills, Rankin Family, Rita MacNeill, and Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre to name a few. The Concert Series consisted of 5-7 shows per year and brought in audiences from all over Southwestern Manitoba and Southeastern Saskatchewan. Also, we were able to provide Fort La Bosse School Division students access to some of the professional performing arts groups at little or no cost.
Created an annual scholarship for a Fort La Bosse Graduating Student and annual prizes at our local fairs.
Partnered with Seniors Access to Independent Living Inc. and Prairie West Recreation to provide FREE “Music in the Park” to all members of the community. Music in the Park was an outdoor outing for members of our community to come together around the Chevron Stage to see wonderful local entertainment, support the fundraising endeavours of local organizations who provided the food venue and promote the Town of Virden as a friendly and open place to gather.
Offered a venue for local artists to display items for sale. This designated area provides residents and visitors an opportunity to purchase handmade gifts and art from a local artist.
Received grants to create murals in several rural communities. The mural on the side of Gopher Creek Coffee House would not have happened without the hard work of the Arts Mosaic.
Operates an Art Gallery. Our local art gallery is the only gallery on Highway #1 between Brandon and Regina. This facility provides a venue for amateur artists to display their work. Unknown to most people, this provides an opening for artists to apply for grants to become professional artists. This space is also utilized by the Virden Music and Arts Festival to showcase the Visual Arts section of the festival.
Built Costume Closet. This facility attracts people to Virden. It is one-of-a-kind. Community theatre groups, like Virden’s Phoenix Players and Virden Theatre Productions, utilize this resource to put on entertainment in Virden. These productions draw large crowds into Virden. This positively affects local restaurants, gas stations and other retail businesses. The volunteers spend hours to ensure that this community service is available. The regular clients of Costume Closet come from far and wide. Costumes have gone to Winnipeg, Regina, Brandon etc.
Organized Arts Workshops. Arts Mosaic has organized workshops for knitting, painting, Kids’ crafts, moccasin making, Violin lessons, and photography to name a few. The focus of the workshops has been arts related activities. The variety of workshops advertised on the Arts Mosaic’s Facebook page is amazing!! When comparing Arts Mosaic’s and Prairie West’s workshop offerings, there is little duplication.
Established a toy drive which became the organization “Christmas Cheer”. Art Mosaic volunteers held a toy drive social where the toys were donated to families in need at Christmas. It was decided that there was an annual community need so a separate board was created.
In closing, I hope that this information will inform the Mayor and the Council about the value that the Arts Mosaic has provided over its 40-year history in Virden and the surrounding community.