New mobile art studio now open in Edmonds

FLEET studio has an open call for artists to send proposals until July 15

Burnaby artists have a brand new space to create in Edmonds Park after opening a new FLEET mobile art studio. On Saturday, May 25, Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley attended the opening along with city staff, representatives of Other Sights, the non-profit artist collective behind the project, and representatives of community organizations. 

FLEET mobile art studio in Edmonds Park, Burnaby. Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

Artists interested in participating and creating in the space can submit their proposals on the FLEET website or the city’s webpage for the project until July 15, 2024. FLEET Studios is organizing two information sessions for interested members of the community. The first session will be online via Zoom on May 30. The second session will be in-person on July 4 at the studio’s location in Edmonds Park. 

According to Jay Pahre, programming lead for FLEET, the studio is still under construction and will be completed in mid-June. Artists can submit proposals for a wide range of projects. 

“An artist can submit ideas or a proposal and say “I want to do an event, I want to do a project,” Pahre said. “It’s quite an open and broad call because we’re interested in having a wide lens for what community art activation looks like.” 

The idea behind the new mobile studios resulted from artists losing their studio spaces in the Metro Vancouver area due to rising rents and living costs. The Other Sights collective devised an innovative way to address the issue. 

Jay Pahre, programming lead for FLEET standing in front of the mobile studio. Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

“There’s been an ongoing interest in artist production spaces, so public art is not only something that is displayed but as something that is engaged in and sustained by the artists. FLEET has come out of five years of conversations,” Pahre told the Beacon. “As spaces for artists diminish across the Lower Mainland, artists are losing their studios, and this is one approach that is an innovative response to what artist studios can look like.” 

According to Allison Collins, public art coordinator with the city, the studio is itself a form of living public art displayed in the park. 

“We look at the studio itself as the art, as a first stop, but the art will also be whatever is happening inside and maybe whatever we do today, like the gatherings and performances,” Collins said. “So not so much like traditional sculptures landing on the park. Maybe from time to time, we’ll have pop-up exhibitions inside, but it’s more about activation, exchange, and community being together as part of the art.” 

Allison Collins, public art coordinator with the City of Burnaby. Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

The opening ceremony itself was an example of what Collins was referring to. The ceremony began with a welcome by Squamish Chief Janice George, who is also a master weaver and artist. 

“My husband and I would love to come out here and teach a Salish weaving class,” George said. “A lot of artists aren’t privileged enough to have studio space, and it means a lot to have a space where you can do a class, where you can spread out your things and create, and who wouldn’t be all for artists having the space to create beautiful things?”

George’s welcome was followed by a music and dance performance by the Coastal Wolfpack, a Coast Salish group. After their performance, Hurley gave a short speech about the new studio. 

The Coastal Wolfpack performing in front of the FLEET mobile studio. Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

“FLEET is an innovative way to bring the arts and artists closer to our community. And we all know how artists struggle to get their work out there and to have a place to really put forward their ideas,” Hurley said. “Projects like this help make our community brighter and much more vibrant.” 

One of FLEET’s community partners is Alegria Soy, a grassroots, non-profit organization representing marginalized communities in the Edmonds area. Doris A., head of Alegria Soy, was present at the event and said the new artist studio is a dream come true for her. 

Doris A., president of Alegria Soy community organization in Edmonds. Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

“Culture and arts are very dear to me because when you leave your country, you leave half of who you are—your family, your language, your profession, and so on. But culture and art, nobody can take that away from you. You bring that with you,” she said. 

For her, the studio is more than just a space for artists to create; it’s a source of hope and inspiration. She dreams of the space becoming a place where the community gathers and creates. 

“I want this to be a space where people see big dreams come true,” Doris said.

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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