Proposed art rental program may hit White Rock

WHITE ROCK — Semiahmoo Arts, in conjunction with the Community Arts Council of White Rock and District, is looking to establish an arts rental and sales service in South Surrey and White Rock.

Patrons of the service would rent paintings and drawings, mixed media works, sculptures, pottery and photography for multiple purposes, with the option to buy the art or keep looking for the perfect piece.

White Rock’s Greg Smith, a new member of Semiahmoo Arts’ board of directors, is at the heart of the proposal, which he says will be beneficial to both artists and art lovers.

"A lot of us are plagued with the notion that we don’t know much about art – we don’t know what’s good," Smith told the Now at his White Rock home.

"So for those people who don’t feel really comfortable walking into an art dealership and have to pick a piece off the wall and pay $500 or $600 or more for it, this gives people that opportunity to take that home, put it on the wall, see if they like it; see if they like it in that room versus this room, get a bit used to it, study it … without having to make that commitment."

The art rental system would include art lovers who want to enjoy the art privately, home staging companies who want pieces of art for a limited amount of time, film companies who need to rent art for just the day and others looking for a flexible avenues to art.

"The beauty of this is there’s all kinds of flexibility to it," Smith said. "The essence of it is artists put work into the hopper that they want to try and rent or sell, so they make choices about art that really represents them, and then the renters can shop through the whole collection that’s in the service and pick the ones they want to try."

Throughout July, Smith has been consulting with artists who might be interested in signing on with the new venture.

Other municipalities like Burnaby and Vancouver have art rental programs in place, of which Smith has been a patron.

The proposal, at first, includes 100 per cent volunteer time to run the system, including a virtual art store with which patrons could browse the art and pair certain pieces together for multiple rentings.

In the future, the art rental program’s minimal fees would go towards maintenance of the virtual library as well as the administrative fees for one employee.

On the whole, the system would be an effective and fair way to rent and sell art, Smith said.

"If you take something down to a consignment, they may want 40 or 50 per cent of the ultimate sale price," said Smith. "That’s pretty steep. That means you’re walking away with half the value of the work you’re creating."

Unlike consigning art, the rental service would provide the artist with a steady income and if the renter happens not to renew another renting term with the piece, Smith said it’s no harm, no foul.

"The beauty of that is the art lives for another day in somebody else’s hands."

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