Aerial view of the new and existing buildings used for the annual Island Mountain School of Art and ArtsWells Festival functions.

Aerial view of the new and existing buildings used for the annual Island Mountain School of Art and ArtsWells Festival functions.

Island Mountain Arts purchases home in Wells

Island Mountain Arts in Wells has purchased a home for its summer School of Arts and ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art.

Island Mountain Arts in Wells has purchased a home for its summer School of Arts and ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art.

The property purchase was made possible with the help of crowd funding and a partnership between the IMA society and Integris Credit Union in Wells.

“I never would have dreamed six months ago that we would be taking possession of this property this year,” says executive director Julie Fowler.

On July 25 the society launched a crowd funding campaign called “CAWS for the Nest”  to purchase the property in Wells which has been everything from a bank to the town jail, and includes a large commercial building, plus two outbuildings, a green house and a good amount of green space.

“We had no idea if we could raise the money to make this dream a reality, but we knew we had to try,” Fowler says.

“There was a risk involved in moving forward, but there was also a risk in doing nothing, as we found ourselves losing facilities that are essential to our operations.”

Fowler says the seller gave the society 75 days to put financing in place.

By early September, more than 200 people had donated almost $35,000 for the project.

“While this was an amazing feat, it was short of the $100,000 goal, which would have provided for the required 25 per cent down payment, as well as all the incidentals that go along with a property purchase,” Fowler says.

In the final moments of the campaign, she says Island Mountain directors appealed to their local Credit Union, Integris, which had been a sponsor of the ArtsWells Festival since 2008.

“In an incredible act of confidence in the project and in the organization, matching their strong belief in supporting development projects in their community, Integris came on as a partner in the project, agreeing to provide the financing,” Fowler says.

With everything in place she says Island Mountain Arts took possession of the property on Dec.1.

For years she says Island Mountain has needed more facilities and space for its programs as well as accommodation for artists, instructors and staff.

She says the dream of purchasing a property was propelled into a necessity last winter when the largest motel in Wells was purchased to house miners, and another mining company put in a bid to buy the property Island Mountain Arts was renting.

“I would like to sincerely thank all the funders of this project, and Integris Credit Union for supporting Island Mountain Arts in continuing to provide valuable arts programming in the Cariboo,” Fowler says. “We are excited to realize the potential that this property offers us and to attract more artists to our unique and beautiful community.”


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