Gallery Row in downtown Nanaimo has new improvements that will bring a little bit of Europe to the area.
George Ewing, owner of the 10 shops on Gallery Row on Fitzwilliam St, says he recently completed the improvements in time for the Art Festival held on Aug. 26 to attract more people to the area.
While the blustery weather played havoc with the musicians and artists, Ewing says the improvements will bring more shoppers to the area for future events or other developments.
Ewing, who runs Gates & Gifts, constructed a gazebo with a two tiered stage for musicians to play and also did the façade work for a backdrop to the stage. Brambles and blackberry bushes were cleared expanding the area behind the shop, landscaping was done and wrought iron gates constructed.
“My vision long ago was that it would be really nice, that it would be like one of those piazzas in Europe,” says Ewing. “It would be a favorite secret spot, it has its own little courtyard.”
Shoppers may be familiar with the local art creations that are mounted on wrought iron frames on the alley walls next to Gates & Gifts. The outdoor art gallery has been operating since 2000 along with the arts festival.
Ewing says the artwork gets changed about once a year after every arts festival, which is generally held in the spring. This year it was held later so participants could enjoy the new stage and gardens, though the blustery weather chased the musicians indoors.
“We would have had a much bigger head count if it wasn’t for the weather.”
The event featured 15 musicians, local artwork, chair massage and other activities and was sponsored by local businesses in the area as well as the Old City Quarter Association and the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association.
Ewing says musicians who have played in the new space, such as Gary Barnum who played recently, have enjoyed the effect.
“The acoustics were just terrific,” he says. “Build it and they will come.”
He envisions having more events, perhaps some in the evenings, with umbrellas and tables to provide a ‘café’ setting.