GAC to Gauge Community Support for Économusée

Gabriola Arts Council

Press Release

Tuesday, August 14 2018

An Économusée turns an artisan’s studio or agrifood boutique into a living museum, conserving a heritage of traditional skills and agricultural practices while promoting the growth and development of artisanal businesses. This year, thanks to a grant from the BC Rural Dividend Fund to the Gabriola Arts Council (GAC), work is being done to determine if the Économusée model could work for Gabriola. GAC has hired island-based company Wave Consulting to conduct a feasibility study to assess community interest in bringing Économusée to Gabriola and/or to see whether an alternative model would be a better fit. The Économusée Society Network, through the Société de développement économique de la Colombie- Britannique, a provincial non-profit organization, has been working with island organizations to develop a new certification model that would focus on an entire community of artisans as opposed to single enterprises.

“The Arts Council is extremely excited to partner with Wave and the Économusée Society Network to find out if this particular model would work for Gabriola,” said Michelle Benjamin, GAC’s executive director. “In concept, Économusée Community could benefit local artisans and agrifood organizations, draw new visitors and buyers to the region, and promote something that makes Gabriola special—the way artisans and island organizations work together.”

Started in Quebec in the 1990s, Économusée is now recognized by UNESCO as a model for the preservation of intangible heritage, and its network has over 70 destinations across Northern Europe and Canada, including Mary Fox Pottery in Ladysmith and the Merridale Cidery in Cobble Hill. A Vancouver Island University study into six island-based Économusée projects found that host sites can expect increases in visitations, sales revenues, and employment opportunities.

Wave Consulting will be meeting with local artisans and agrifood business owners who may be interested in pursuing the Économusée concept to determine if it meets their needs as Gabriola-based businesses. 

If you are interested in taking part in this conversation, please contact Scott Colbourne at scolbourne@gmail.com before August 31. 

GAC will also be hosting a community information session in the fall.