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Rolling out something more artistic

The Three Sisters behind the new cultural centre are Jax Rula, Adrienne Carter and Sheila McAlpine. They’re converting the former Thoman Tire building into a location that promotes local artists. [Damon Maclean]

A former tire shop may seem an odd location for an arts centre, but the transformation is just what organizers had in mind, providing options aside from retail in St. Jacobs.

The Three Sisters Cultural Centre is emerging from what was the Thoman Tire building on King street. It’s to be a place where artists can create and sell their work on location.

“Waterloo Region has always been known for being very creative, and people often think that the creativity lies solely in the tech industry. [There have been] many inventions here, as well as [a] very strong artist community,” explained Adrienne Carter, founder of the organization alongside her sisters, Jax Rula and Sheila McAlpine.

The location for the new not-for-profit venture seemed a good fit for the sisters, who grew up in the village.

“We wanted to bring back some of that ‘artists element’ to help with the experience of St. Jacobs,” said Carter.

The village has always been home to artistry, but there’s been more of a retail focus in recent years, said Carter, noting the sisters’ goal is to bring more artistic expression back into the mix.

Reception to the idea has been “very positive,” she added.

“Everybody loves the idea of a cultural centre right in the heart of St. Jacobs,” said Carter, adding the aim is to promote all aspects of art and creation within a 100-kilometre radius, “whether that’s artists, music, food and drink, it will be something that really promotes a local enterprise.”

The food-and-drink component will be the purview of the Tasting Room, located in the old house next door, once home to a small café. It will feature local craft beverages and preserves found throughout the area.

As a business beginning during the pandemic, Three Sisters do not qualify for any sort of government funding. Programs like the Rural Economic Development initiative have taken what Carter describes as a bit of a hiatus. As a not-for-profit, the sisters have found themselves in something like limbo given the times.

They hope to open the doors to the public next spring, with the tasting house open this fall.

In the meantime, to raise money for renovations, support artists and begin public outreach, the organization is hosting an online art auction. Jax developed the model for the sale as a 90-10 model, meaning that if a piece goes for $100, the artists gets $90, and the organization gets the remaining $10. If the bid were $150, the artists would get $90 from the first 100 and $5 from the next $50.

The auction runs through July 31. Artists on display include Amy Ferrari, a former resident of the area, and Cathy Amos, Betty Avery and Gary Barnett. The center is hoping to raise $250,000 for renovations to the location. For this first outing, they hope to raise $5,000 via the auction.

“It’s really important to support art and creativity, and in many, many different avenues and mediums. And during this time of COVID, it’s important to support local endeavors.”

Carter sees the possibility of four online auctions each year.

Additional information on the centre and the online auction can be viewed at the Three Sisters website.

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