Arts group challenges community to get creative

The Gage Gallery Arts Collective is giving non-professional artists a new outlet for their work, thanks to a community project, Challenge Crisis With Creativity.

A weekly email prompt by the gallery on Oak Bay Avenue provides the impetus for artists to create thematic artwork inspired by the COVID-19 crisis. Social distancing and Spring have been themes thus far, resulting in approximately 50 newly created pieces over the past two weeks.

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Organizers are asking that photographs of new work be sent to the gallery so they can be posted on and the gallery’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.

“This is essential to my well being, and for other people as well to have that connection,” said Ashley Riddett, a partner in the project with the non-profit gallery.

The community-building project is aimed at inspiring non-artists, “people who aren’t normally asked to participate in gallery exhibitions,” Riddett said.

Planning of a similar project was underway before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, with commitments from amateur artists in local retirement homes, outreach centres and elementary and middle schools.

Riddett renamed it Challenge Crisis With Creativity and made it an online initiative, with the hopes that the photographs of thematic pastels, acrylics, doodles, and watercolours being sent via email to the gallery will one day be compiled into a community art book.

In the meantime, Riddett said artists wanting some inspiration should sign up with the gallery to receive a new theme to be unveiled next week. Riddett currently has no end date in mind for Challenge Crisis With Creativity. On account of its popularity in recent weeks, she might keep it going once social distancing becomes a thing of the past — she might even might see if the project can be moved into the gallery at one point.

“We would like to take this on for as long as we can. It evolves every week. It’s important to keep your options open and opportunities flowing.

“We’ll figure it out as we go.”

For more information on the project, visit

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