The Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre staff and volunteers are looking forward to reopening following renovations earlier this year, but for the time being the focus is on reinventing how the facility operates.
Renovations at the Pumphouse were completed “just before COVID really knocked us over,” said office manager Gail Kerr.
“We’re really looking forward to reopening,” she said. “Our board and staff have been working so hard to ensure everybody’s safety when we do reopen.”
The centre is hoping to resume operations sometime in the summer but will wait for the town to decree when the time is appropriate.
The Pumphouse will be looking for new ways to reinvent classes and events to support the arts centre.
“Everything we are doing is new and innovative,” Kerr said. “It is a direct result of us having to deal with COVID-19.”
“The difference between a not-for-profit organization like the Pumphouse and say a retail type of business is when they open their doors, they get money coming in, people are spending money,” Kerr said. “When we open our doors, most of our funding comes through fundraisers.”
“We’ve had to cancel the fashion show and Art at the Pumphouse,” she said. “Those are big fundraisers for us.”
Kerr said board members are working to determine “how we can take those cancelled events, that really did hurt us financially, and move forward.”
Now is a time where the Pumphouse is relying on sponsors, supporters and members more than ever for support, she added.
Kerr encouraged people to support the arts centre, “where they can and where they’re willing to and that is certainly going to sustain us.”
The Pumphouse is offering online classes, which include watercolour and acrylic workshops, family friendly online videos and art activities which can be accessed through their website at www.niagarapumphouse.ca.
Pumphouse programs and art classes are available to everyone but there is a discounted price on classes if you hold a membership.
“Anyone who wants to be a member can be. It doesn’t mean you have to take classes, it just means you’re supporting the Pumphouse and that’s a wonderful thing,” Kerr said.
Current offerings for classes and workshops at the Pumphouse are different from what is usually available.
“We’re looking for ways to keep our members and the public engaged,”
“It’s a lot of new people that are offering their time,” Kerr said. “These people are reaching out to us and we’re certainly grateful.”
Sandra Nass Misiak is a NOTL resident volunteering her time to conduct some of these workshops and video series. With a passion for arts and education, art has always been an important part of her life.
The upcoming series through the Pumphouse website, Beginners’ Tips in Acrylics by Sandy, presents helpful ideas designed for those looking to start their artistic journey from home.
Nass Misiak said anybody can learn how to create art and it is important to push any fear or doubt aside.
“There’s no age limit,” she said. “It’s not something for the young, it’s something that can be explored and developed even as a senior.”
There also are plans to offer a renovation tour of the new Pumphouse, “which is going to be really fun because that will be a fundraiser for us, probably early August, and it will be a personalized tour,” Kerr said.
When it is time to reopen, the Pumphouse will be looking to take advantage of “plein air” – or outdoor – classes.
“We have done plein air classes before so we’re going to take advantage of that type of format so that we’ll be able to be outside in the fresh air,” Kerr said.
The Pumphouse will also host indoor classes but will have a reduced number of students to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
“We are working hard to ensure everyone’s safety when they do come through our doors,” Kerr said.
“We’re doing all the right things with health and safety, installing the acrylic shields at the front desk, disinfecting and changing our traffic flow and all of those things. We’re working on it, we are going to be ready and we’re very excited about it.”