Westside Weekly – August 17 2014

Westside Weekly Aug 17 Culture Days Julia Trops

The highlight this week leading up to Westbank West Kelowna Culture Days is focused on participation of the artists and the banks. You would think there would be a lot of red tape involved in getting a national business such as a bank on board with local cultural initiatives, but this was not the case at all.

Both the TD and RBC Banks at the new Okanagan Landing Shopping Centre and both TD and RBC at Westbank Shopping Centre found out about the premise of Westside Culture Days just through word of mouth, and immediately they jumped on board. They know the value of culture, the value of community and the value of supporting their clients.

All Westside Culture Days connections came about because the artists were asked to look at the businesses they patronize and the businesses were asked to look at its clients. Westside Culture Days is about cultural partnerships, participation and education.

Geert Maas has partnered with the TD Bank in the Okanagan Landing Shopping Centre. Geert is a local gem and has been around a long time, supporting both the Okanagan community and abroad. You may remember him as the artist who conceived and did the Spirit of Kelowna medallion project which is currently installed at Kelowna’s City Hall. Like me, Geert is both artist and businessman, and when he heard about this Westside Culture Days project, he could immediately see the benefits for partnership and education for both artists and businesses.

I asked the banks and the artists the same questions each, and not surprisingly, the responses back were very similar. Along with Geert Maas, Linda Lovisa, artist, teacher and owner of New Moon Gallery, partnered with TD Westbank Shopping Centre, and Cherie Sibley, wildlife and bird artist, partnered with RBC Westbank Shopping Centre, know the value of a good work of art to transform a living space or a business space.

All of these artists responded their goal is not only about the partnerships but also the possibility for education for them and for the business. All agree that when businesses have local artists’ work, while it does showcase the artist, it benefits the business more in that it beautifies the business and clearly demonstrates to their clients the business’s belief in the value of culture.

The banks, without exception, agree that support of local cultural initiatives demonstrates support of the community. Here are a few of their comments:

Business Advisor Sonia Pattison TD Westbank: “Community is very important to us as a branch and organization. We would like to be known as the bank who cares and supports our local cultural initiatives. “

Branch Manager Colin Garbutt RBC Westbank:

“Overall we are looking to show our support in our area and continue to grow RBC’s relationship with the WFN.  We would like to promote culture, and diversity in the art community. “ When I spoke with Nico Vogt at the RBC Okanagan Landing his words were echoed in the above comments and while they are finalizing their selection of artist, I know from his comments that their values are identical to the other participants.

Branch Manager Kim Booker TD Okanagan Landing: “We are participating because TD believes in the Arts and it’s exciting to be a part of the events. … I am really excited to show (Geert’s) work to the community. TD would love to participate every year!!”

Art is a business. Business owners learn too that artists are not just displaying work for viewing, but that this is their life and their livelihood. I would hope that eventually that any business would realize that it would be the highest level of participation for those same businesses to invest back in to their local artist community. With the support of local banks or any business behind our artists it demonstrates a cultural branding of credibility and confidence in local artists and the Westside as a whole.

Julia Trops is a Westside artist and author of the book Art & Money. Email info@WestsideCultureDays.com

Thank you to Westside Weekly for publishing these articles!