Did you know that in the heart of Courtenay, a local recording studio—decked out with audio and video gear, and even an on-site tech coach—is available for community use? Located just upstairs from the Comox Valley Art Gallery, the Digital Creation Hub is there to help people make art.
The idea started during the pandemic, when everyone was living virtually and tech savviness (or the lack thereof) further separated those who benefited from access to tools like video and audio recording, and those who did not have access due to cost and other barriers.
Some artists use tech gear like cameras, lighting, recording equipment, and sound booths to make their art. Others need this kind of gear to market themselves creatively online. It is no longer enough for an artist to snap a picture of a painting and post it to Facebook. Today, you need to be able to promote yourself with podcasts or video and other dynamic content to reach new audiences. Comox Valley Arts set up the Digital Creation Hub to help artists, aspiring and established, access these tools.
Important to this story is the big-picture backdrop of a region that has become a global tourism destination, and the growing trend in arts and cultural tourism. We know that the Island is home to around 45,000 artists, artisans, and other kinds of creatives (five times more than the national average). There is untapped potential here; the Digital Creation Hub provides support and services so artists can meet their creative goals and fit into this broader picture—and realize their full economic potential.
The aim is to go a step further and provide not only equipment and tools, but also skills and knowledge. A variety of artists arrive with different ideas for how to use the Digital Creation Hub. Some clients come in to work on a specific project, while others are looking to try something for the first time. The community recording studio has been used for podcasts, poetry, and artistic experimentation, as well as recording music. You don’t have to know what you are doing in a sound studio to come in and record a demo track for your band or a lullaby for your kiddo.
The Digital Creation Hub coach is Caresse Nadeau, a practicing multimedia artist and musician. So far, Nadeau has helped 15 artists and creatives work on all sorts of digital projects, from audio books to fine art photography. She says, “We want to bridge the gap between arts and tech, whether this gap is a crack in the sidewalk or a chasm. The idea is to counter the misconception that a person with an ‘artist’s brain’ can’t develop the technical skills they need to promote their art. We want to see artists empowered to not only move through this digital age but thrive within it.”
CORA SILVESTRU AT WORK
The Comox Valley Hub, a sister to a similar offering at The Old School House Art Centre in Qualicum Beach, is the start of a growing collaborative effort from arts councils to work together in a more connected way to strengthen arts and culture across Vancouver Island.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it was to go digital or perish. As Executive Director of Comox Valley Arts, I think it’s exciting that our 55-year-old organization can provide meaningful modern-day support to a growing community of artists.
When we launched the Hub, we envisioned helping established artists maintain relevance, amplifying the work of emerging artists, and working together with other arts organizations to uplift the sector.
We’re well on the way. Since the launch in March, the Hub has hosted musicians, DJs, a podcaster, a self-help book author, non-profit organizations seeking to make promotional videos, and even a poet. “We put out the call for artists to join us in this space and it has been wonderful to see the diversity of folks who come in and what they want to work on,” says Caresse Nadeau. “Every day is a new adventure of learning what artists need and how we can hold space and support them on their digital journey.”
The Hub is taking reservations for sessions through its online booking system. You can make a booking by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting comoxvalleyarts.com. The Comox Valley Digital Creation Hub is located above the Comox Valley Art Gallery. The program is led by Comox Valley Arts and funded by the BC Arts Council.