News Local

Winkler celebrates new art gallery

Greg Vandermeulen


Guests got their first peek at the new Winkler Arts and Cultural Centre on Dec. 28, as dignitaries formally announced the beginning of construction.
WAC (Winkler Arts and Culture) President Ray Derksen, was joined by Harv Thiessen of WBS Construction, Winkler Mayor Martin Harder and MLA Cameron Friesen.
The project will turn the old city utilities building into an art gallery and meeting space, with phase 1A being the first gallery, HVAC systems, washrooms and components for accessibility.
The second gallery will be added if WAC can raise an additional $150,000.
Surrounding by concrete floors, cinderblock walls, and steel rails, Derksen said they want to retain part of the industrial look.
“It’s still going to have the raw look,” he said. “But with new flooring, painted ceilings, probably sandblasted walls so you still have the brick, and then some show walls will be added.”
Dampers will also be put in place to create better sound, and some additional light will be allowed into the space. “You’ve always got to be careful... with light and art,” he said. “UVs can actually cause some harm to art.”
Mayor Martin Harder is happy to see a the former utilities building get a new life.
“To repurpose this building is just absolutely incredible,” he said.
Harder said he was excited about this idea since Ray first talked to him about it.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to be able to accomplish this,” he said. “One hundred years from now this will be the best thing that ever happened.”
Harder said the proximity of the building to the recreation facilities makes it ideal.
While no sod was turned, and no construction work began immediately, Derksen said the event was important.
“It was an idea, it was a vision,” he said. “Today is showing that it’s going to be a reality.”
Derksen said he’s already had an artist approach him, asking to be the first to show in the facility.
“We do all these mass shows, which are fun, but the time that a person can go into here and do their own show... that’s going to be wild,” he said.
Derksen said it will give Winkler’s arts community a public venue for the first time.
“Winkler’s always been known as an industrial commercial place, (a) farming community and sports,” he said. “This is getting a whole other side...”
“This is now going to keep people here and it’s going to draw people here,” he added. “It’s a huge void being filled.”