Trail’s culture lacks attention in annual tour

Artists are invited to display their work in this summer’s Columbia Basin Culture Tour

A popular culture tour that highlights arts across the Columbia Basin has put out its annual call for entry.

And while the Columbia Basin Culture Tour is a great opportunity for artists to showcase their skill and sell some of their pieces, Greater Trail continues to struggle to find enough people to sign up and cross-promote what this corner of the region has to offer.

“What happens is artists in Trail will try and do it and they won’t get very many people so they’ll get kind of discouraged and so they don’t want to do it the next year,” explained Trail potter Fran Moll.

“What I find frustrating is trying to find anybody in the Trail area who wants to do it and so I’m kind of the only one who ends up consistently doing it here in Trail.”

She generally attracts a dozen to 20 people to her studio, located in her East Trail home.

Last year, Moll set up reduced items on her front lawn to entice people onto her property and into her carport, where she had a pottery wheel set up.

She also invited participants into her basement studio where she further demonstrated her skill she’s been at for 38 years.

But Fruitvale resident Donna Anderson of “Painted Glass” only had one person stop into her studio last year and hasn’t decided whether she’ll sign up again. She attributes the turnout to the few destinations to visit nearby, making her studio off the “beaten track.”

Last year only two venues in Trail and Montrose took part, which is slightly less than five in 2012.

Krista Patterson, executive director for the Columbia Kootenay Culture Alliance, admits that having only a few people on board can make it challenging to attract visitors from other communities to make the drive.

“We would definitely love to have more participation in the Trail/Montrose/Fruitvale area – this drive can make a nice loop through to Salmo, where Joe Horvath’s Studio has participated for a number of years,” she said. “Heritage venues and archives are also welcome to participate.”

The CBCT is a self-guided tour showcasing local arts, culture and heritage offered at no charge to the general public. Tour directories are available to the public as a guide to visit studios, exhibitions, museums, art galleries, cultural centres or heritage sites throughout the Columbia Basin during the weekend of August 9-10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The tour allows visitors to meet the participants behind the scenes, visit studios that may not regularly be open to the public, purchase work directly from artists and visit art

galleries, museums and cultural centres to view special interpretive displays, archives, demonstrations or performances.

“For quite a number of participants they get a lot of people through the doors and for some of them who basically promote it as their big open studio event of the year, they make a high level of sales, so it really varies,” said Patterson.

“People are kind of competing against each other to get people through their door because if you’re going on the culture tour and you pick up the directory and there are 40 communities listed with 77 places to go to, you’re going to make some choices.”

It’s an opportunity for artists to exploit the event, she said, and boost their name and work within their community. The tour not only attracts locals with a keen interest but also visitors who make a point of taking part in the tour.

Early registration is $40 and ends March 31, with regular registration going for $50 from April 1-14.

This fee includes inclusion in a printed directory, a web page profile, placement in an online interactive map, event signage and mention in a province-wide promotional campaign.

Participating individuals and venues must be located in the Canadian Columbia Basin, the southeast corner of the province roughly bordered by the communities of Valemount, Golden, Elkford, Creston, Rossland, Arrow Lakes and Revelstoke.

Although not in the Basin, the communities of Grand Forks and Christina Lake are again invited to participate this year.

To register visit: or for more information call: 1-250-505-5505 (toll free at 1-877-505-7355).

The CBCT is a project of the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance and is funded by Columbia Basin Trust, which supports the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the Columbia Basin.