It’s positive, it’s successful, it’s a huge step forward.
That was the enthusiastic consensus on Friday afternoon, Oct. 16 from people attending the Salmon Arm Pride Project Arts & Awareness Festival, the first of its kind in the community.
“The display is impressive, very impressive, and it’s something that everyone should see,” was Patrick Ryley’s response to the exhibition at the Salmon Arm Art Gallery. Ryley has long been a proponent of equality and inclusion for gay folks.
“It’s taking Salmon Arm a huge step forward and allowed a balance of opinion,” he said.
Cristian Quijas was equally enthusiastic.
“I love it, it’s nice to see this happening. Next year I will get involved… in presenting art. This year, it’s a space that gives you peace and love.”
Clea Roddick and young Maizie Newnes were also enjoying the exhibits.
Roddick said it was great to see Salmon Arm welcoming and including everyone in the community.
“I’m really excited that it’s here..,” she said, also expressing her appreciation for how bright and colourful the exhibition was on a dreary day.
Art gallery director/curator Tracey Kutschker was also pleased.
“We’ve had lots of people through the exhibition, lots of people through the pop-up shop, positive, enthusiastic, supportive and inspiring conversations happening, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. So I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” she said.
“I feel like this was the right place at the right time. People know the world’s changed. People are more open and willing to learn. We’ve got this bizarre pandemic experience that we’ve had collectively, and I think we’re kind of ready to imagine a new world, where equity and diversity and inclusion are a bigger part of that.”
Kate Fagervik, who was helping staff the pop-up shop in the former location of the Blue Canoe restaurant, said the shop had seen more than 150 sales in just two-and-a-half days. Customers had been making return trips with friends and families in tow.
“We have people asking questions and learning and being open and curious. I think it’s a huge success so far.”
She noted that the pop-up shop is open until 4 p.m. on Oct. 17 and will be accessible online come November. You can go to SalmonArmPrideProject.ca to find more information on the shop and the rest of the festival.
Fagervik explained that LGBTQ2S+ people from the community and their allies can continue making things and the online shop will sell them.
”It’s a 75/25 per cent split, so the artist keeps 75 per cent, the Pride Project keeps 25 per cent and it’s our new social enterprise, so we’re really, really excited about the future here in Salmon Arm,” she said.
“We’re proud of you, Salmon Arm.”