Artisans’ Studio member Sue Williams adjusts the display in the front window showing off items available for raffle as the studio celebrates 45 years. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo’s artist-run Artisans’ Studio celebrates 45th anniversary

Art works to be raffled off as group acknowledges milestone

An artist-run shop in downtown Nanaimo is celebrating nearly a half-century in business with a week-long giveaway.

Next month the Artisans’ Studio, located at 70 Bastion St., is marking 45 years of selling art by Vancouver Island and Gulf Island artists and in honour of that milestone the co-op is raffling off work donated by its artists. Guests can fill out ballots starting Aug. 3 and the seven days of draws begin Aug. 24.

“We were amazed at how generous our artist were,” said Dorothy Gregory, Artisans’ Studio media coordinator. “We just sent out an e-mail and said, ‘We want to do this for the 45th anniversary,’ and my goodness they were calling back and saying, ‘I will give you this,’ ‘You can have that,’ ‘Pick anything.'”

Gregory has been a member of the group for around 10 years, but she said some members have been involved for twice as long. She said the main key to the studio’s longevity is the commitments of its members, noting that when there is a problem, “everybody jumps in to help.” It also helps that they all get along.

“We’re just a cohesive group and we just like each other,” Gregory said. “And the new people that join the group seem to, I guess because of the personality of the group itself, tend to be the kinds of people that think in like ways.”

Gregory said the group is proud that it’s managed to survive for as long as it has. She said making it through the COVID-19 pandemic is an achievement on its own. She said the last two years have been “pretty tough.”

“We’ve been closed down twice, once for three months and again for about six weeks, because of COVID…” she said. “So I think just the fact that we were able to accomplish keeping going through all of this and continuing on, that’s probably the biggest accomplishment in my eyes.”

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