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Summerside Scene
by Peggy Miles

In recent years Summerside has rebranded itself with a “small is big” message. You may have seen the message presented as “Small City. Big ideas” (or “Big opportunity” or “Big possibilities”).

With the launch of a new artist-in-residence program, Summerside can add another tagline to the mix—“Small House. Big Vision.”

The house itself can be found at 471 Notre Dame Street and offers living quarters and a creative space for visiting artists. Renamed the West End Cottage, the name is reflective of the building’s history as one of 10 cottages formally located at the Summerside golf course and moved to Notre Dame Street in the early 1950s.

From the outside the house appears small, but once inside, the feeling is surprisingly cozy and spacious. The interior includes enduring hardwood floors, neutral coloured walls, and historical photos reflecting Summerside’s harness racing heritage. The property is directly adjoining the Summerside racetrack and is one of the reasons for the programs’ official name of PACE.

The seeds for the project were planted last year when the City of Summerside purchased the grey-blue house and the staff at the City’s Wyatt Heritage Properties began exploring how an artist-in-residence program could be developed locally. WHP naturally reached out to the PEI Council of the Arts, who became an enthusiastic partner for the project. The association will be covering the cost of the weekly stipend to artists. “This entirely fits our mandate,” communicates Arts Council Executive Director Darrin White. “We’re always looking to support artists in meaningful ways.”

Wyatt Heritage Properties is now actively seeking applications from artists across the country. Chosen applicants will be eligible to reside in the house on Notre Dame Street during one of three residency periods (July–August, September–October or March–May).

Benefits to the artists include the opportunity to develop their practice, connect with other artists, and to get to know the community on an intimate level.

“What’s so exciting is the unknown,” conveys Lori Ellis, the Manager of Cultural and Heritage Properties at Wyatt Heritage Properties. Since applicants will propose the kind of contributions they will share as participants of the program, there is great potential for “increased dialogue about the arts in the community.”

Artists will be responsible to maintain an on-site studio presence and to be available to the public for discussion and idea exchange. Artists will also be responsible for performing community engagement activities, for example conducting workshops or participating in existing community spaces and cultural programs.

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