The Hub Arts Collective’s Ryan Robson, left, and Matt Brown relax on the main-floor space of the new arts venue, where the work of local portrait artist Emily Rice is currently showing. The Hub officially opens Jan. 28 and the public is welcome to drop by and see what it’s all about.

As an actor and theatre director, Matt Brown has not only recited a few proverbs in his day, he has lived them.

So the one that comes to mind when describing his latest venture, The Hub Arts Collective, has a deep, personal meaning: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Originally a concept to bring the arts into a more open venue, Brown made The Hub a reality almost a decade ago. However, due to circumstances beyond his control, the original Hub closed down.

And now with the same mandate to open doors to all manner of the arts, and to all ages, The Hub has been revived. And Brown says he has learned from past mistakes.

“My thought was that if it was revived, it would not be under a new name. I wanted to hold true to the original vision. The problem is the original vision didn’t get executed properly,” said Brown.

With the grand opening of The Hub’s new location taking place Jan. 28, Brown has spent the past two years thinking of ways to make the arts venture a reality.

He wanted to stick to his original vision: to have a place where the arts are inclusive, where artists can work together, where the doors are open to all members of the community. With the help of Ryan Robson, one of three studio artists working out of the new Hub, and other like-minded individuals, Brown has been able to re-open the doors.

And he has a lot of support through his connections with other arts and culture organizations such as the Vernon Community Arts Centre, the Okanagan Science Centre as well as Powerhouse Theatre.

“What I hear from those places is that there are not enough volunteers. People may be afraid of sharing or even duplicating their knowledge. But this will be a place where people can pool from various resources,” he said.

“We’re called The Hub; not the box, not the Vernon arts collective. The Hub is somewhere that radiates and gravitates. It’s circular in that it never ends, and it’s inclusive. There are lots of pockets of the arts out there that need to be linked.”

The Hub has so far hosted a number of exhibitions by its studio artists, including the inaugural one held by Robson, which was well attended. And there is one studio space currently open for an artist.

Robson, a Cape Breton-born and raised artist, came to Vernon, where her father lives, after graduating from NSCAD (Nova Scotia University of Art and Design) over a year ago, and says she has been amazed with the amount of creativity here.

“I was surprised at how much there was here, and we’re hoping to open that up with The Hub,” said Robson, who also works at Teen Junction and has been trying to pull the two organizations together by donating proceeds from admission to art shows to the local organization.

“We want to start challenging the community by asking them to show us something they haven’t done before.”

Now with The Hub reopening in a bolder, bigger location with street-front visibility on 30th Avenue (in the former pawn shop beside the Towne Theatre), Brown says he wants youth to be a big part of the venture.

“Merging the arts is one of The Hub’s core fundamentals and it is all about youth and all ages. I would love to see a nine-year-old working with a 90-year-old; getting unlikely people to work together on the same task and seeing how much they can work together.”

And Brown doesn’t plan to repeat old mistakes. He now has the business acumen to be able to run things in a more organized fashion and has so far overcome one challenge: the installation of a workable toilet.

“We had $3,100 in plumbing installed. The toilet alone was $1,500. People donated their manpower and expertise to help,” said Brown. “It has blown me away the amount of people that are showing up to help. I’m anxious to find a way for this place to give back.”

Using his new business knowledge from courses he has taken, Brown says he has broken The Hub into various components to make it accessible to people.

“That first try was cheaper than my university education. It was a great learning curve. With so many fails, you eventually have to see success, and with people saying ‘you can’t do this,” it’s made me charge ahead with determination. I have to prove that this can be a success.”

Besides the artist studios, located upstairs, The Hub now has a yoga studio operated by Lisa Dumas, and will also offer dance classes by the Inner World School, run by Andrea Clarke. Plans are also in the works for a future recording studio, and drop-in classes, from acting to photography to life drawing. They will be ongoing as will monthly exhibitions in The Hub’s street-level space.

There will also be a performance of The Vagina Monologues to be held in February.

“We want to create conversation in the community and bring attention to causes. We would like to do a display in the lobby that speaks to social issues. For example, in December we could do something on hunger, and for Valentine’s Day, it could be something on Heart and Stroke,” said Robson.

Visitors will be able to get a better perspective of The Hub Arts Collective, and its fancy commode, at the grand opening Jan. 28 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Everyone is welcome and there will music, comedy, art, children’s performances, live drawing and a participatory activity. Local actress Christine Pilgrim will host the entire evening, which also includes a performance by Theatre Loud and musical headliner Peter McKillop. Suggested donation is $5 at the door, with proceeds to Teen Junction.



The Hub will be open thereafter, Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The public is welcome to drop by or visit The Hub Arts Collective on Facebook for more information.


By Kristin Froneman – Vernon Morning Star

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