“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso
To provide a space for creative minds of all ages to gather, create, share and teach in a safe positive environment.
To provide the communities of Nipigon, Red Rock, Hurkett, Dorion, and Lake Helen with opportunities for arts-based activities and programs, expand economic opportunities for local artists, and attract visitors to Nipigon’s downtown core.
The main Edge Arts gallery space was originally built with hand constructed blocks by Nipigon pioneer Jalmar “John” Salo in the early 1900’s. Back then, it was known as Salo’s Pool Room. In the 1940’s, the two smaller buildings were added. A variety of businesses came and went amongst the three buildings including a drugstore, jewelry stores, restaurants, hair salons, a men’s wear retailer, and a pet store/groomer, among others.
In the early 2000’s, the Township of Nipigon became owners of the vacant buildings. In 2017, the Economic Development Committee recommended that the old store fronts be replaced with colourful, siding facades to improve their curbside appeal. Also that year, with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Township developed a Superior North Youth Arts and Culture Strategy that identified the absence of a dedicated, adequate arts space as a major gap in the region.
In 2018 the Township accessed another Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to renovate the interiors of the three Front St. buildings. That November began the transformation of the buildings into a single, accessible space for arts and culture programs and events. Due to the advanced age of the buildings and their separation, the renovation was a challenging one. Contractor Jordan Aubut and Councillor James Foulds worked long hours to have the building ready for its May 2019 grand opening.
Programming activities were also financed through Healthy Community Micro Grant and private donations from the former Snowmobile Club, and the Hike for Health. The programs offered included drama classes, make-up lessons, dance, comedy skit classes, and graphic novel/comic drawings.
Arts and culture received a prime spot on the economic and community development agenda of the Township of Nipigon in 2015. Youth and their families were leaving the area to settle in Thunder Bay due to the limited arts and culture opportunities in the region. Recognizing the intrinsic virtues and impact of arts and culture on the individual and community development, the Township of Nipigon applied for and received a seed grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to develop an arts and culture strategy for the region, encompassing the areas between Dorion and Lake Helen Reserve. It financed the creation of “The Superior North Youth Arts & Culture Strategy”, a document adopted by Nipigon in July 2017 and later accepted by the councils of Dorion, Red Rock and Red Rock Indian Band.
In response to the strategy, the Township of Nipigon’s economic development department took the lead in establishing community space dedicated to the arts. Several capacious buildings on the Front Street were chosen for renovation and to serve as the birth place of the new arts hub. With $85,000 grant obtained from the OTF in 2018 and the Township of Nipigon’s contributing the remaining capital to complete the renovation, the present Edge Arts Studio & Gallery was no longer an abstract idea but a viable reality.
TBAYTEL GRANT FOR YOUTH ART WORKSHOPS
In 2018, Nipigon’s Edge Arts Studio & Gallery – a new youth arts hub received $5,000 from the Tbaytel for Good Grant for its 1600 square foot multi-use space to kick off programming with a free “creator/maker” focused drop-in program for youth aged 12-18 from Nipigon, Red Rock and the Red Rock Indian Band. With the purchase of tables, chairs, tools and materials, the space was made ready to host its first program in early 2019 to connect participants with a project leader and local volunteer artists. The goal was to promote positive self-esteem in local at-risk youth and encourage aspiring young artists to continue exploring their creativity.