By Anna Horsnell
Amber Juby and Vanessa Raven-Vipond are passionate about art. They are also dedicated to their community of Kingston-Greenwood. Together they have thrown their enthusiasm and energy behind the non-profit society, NOVA Seven Arts Council, more simply referred to as 7Arts. The name says it all. NOVA is the acronym for New Opportunities for Valley Artists, and Seven sums up the focus on painting, drawing, photography, writing, music, design, and craft.
The 7Arts mission statement is “to engage our local community by providing an inclusive, creative environment that will teach, support and promote the arts and art education in a family-friendly, accessible building.” To that end, they have established a makerspace in the Central Court building directly across the street from Dwight Ross Elementary School in Greenwood. This location not only gives them ideal proximity to the school, but the building is also street-level for complete accessibility, on a bus route, and offers room for both a makers area and a small gallery for local artists.
First, a little history. Juby and Raven-Vipond both ended up in Greenwood through the Canadian military and both come from a varied background in business and the arts. Juby had gotten involved in teaching art and various art events in the local area when she became aware of the community’s desire for a more permanent place where anyone could come to learn and make art. She also realized that, although the Annapolis Valley is a region steeped in art and culture, there seemed to be fewer art opportunities in the combined villages of Kingston and Greenwood. In June 2018, a gathering of like-minded friends and parents from the area resulted in the decision to create an arts council, and by October 2018, they had registered as a non-profit. Raven-Vipond joined as an artist and board member in August 2019 and quickly became very dedicated and instrumental to the group’s success. After investigating many buildings, the group settled on the Central Avenue location with an open house in November 2019.
Juby describes how the Council very much wants the community to help guide the evolution of what 7Arts becomes in the years ahead. To begin however, the group has decided on several phases of development. First is the opening of the makerspace, and the creation of an artist club (NOVA Club) offering a social network for local artists and promotional opportunities for their art. Next, they are initiating “Wellness Wednesdays” to begin linking mental health and wellness with art creation. A third goal will be to incorporate culture and heritage. The possibilities and opportunities are almost endless and the Art Council Board welcomes input from all generations within the community.
These powerhouse ladies have also been busy reaching out to neighbouring communities, schools, and local art groups to make connections, share ideas, and build awareness of 7Arts presence. Now that they have a permanent location, people are starting to come through the door, and both interest and support is growing. The 7Arts website includes a monthly calendar listing weekly classes and workshops for children and youth of all ages. Day or family passes are available. Dreams for the future? Juby smiles and lists hopes for, “running continuous programs, building more partnerships, making art accessible to everyone, and simply seeing the excitement of kids discovering art.”
The 7Arts MakerSpace and Gallery is located at 619 Central Avenue, Unit 1, in Greenwood. Their website is 7arts.ca and they are also on Facebook @7arts2. Interested artists, parents, teachers, or anyone who would like to learn how to make art may email firstname.lastname@example.org. Artists interested in offering art classes are also encouraged to make contact by email.