The Route 22 Artist Collective has been awarded federal funding to assist with entrepreneurship training and mentorship for Cochrane area artists.

PrariresCan is investing $192,734 in a four-year agreement to enable Route 22 to support at least 60 artists to develop their businesses.

Funding will also support the collective in continuing to develop physical and digital space for the sale of artworks, promote artists at specialized events, and build collaborative relationships with indigenous cultural organizations, artists, and arts communities.

It falls in line with the mission and objectives of this grassroots, nonprofit organization that had a challenging beginning during the 2020 pandemic. Since then, it has risen to become an ambitious and inspiring arts organization.

"It's huge because it gives us the capacity to just really build our foundation as an organization and to really propel all of the artists forward, and in terms of the impact they can have on the community economically," says executive director Lara Kruger. "It's a really huge thing for all of us."

PrairiesCan funding is being provided through its Community Economic Development and Diversification Program (CEDD) which makes targeted investments aimed at generating sustainable, inclusive economic growth and helping communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba to fully participate in and benefit from economic opportunities.

Dan Vandal, PrairiesCan federal minister, is pleased to say that includes the arts and culture sector.

“I’m proud to see our government bolstering its capacity to continue creating sustainable jobs and economic growth," says Vandal. "This investment in Route 22 Artist Collective will help highlight the amazing talent of Cochrane and area artists while enabling them to reach their full potential as entrepreneurs and business owners.”

The Collective had to match the funds being provided by PrariresCan. Kruger says several organizations came forward to make that possible.

Contributions were made by the Town of Cochrane, Totem Foundation, Cochrane Foundation, Rocky View County, Two Pharmacy, Bow River’s Edge Campground Society, Cochrane Lions Club, Cochrane Rotary Club, and corporate partners.

The Route 22 gallery is open six days a week, Tuesday to Sunday, and offers a feast for the eyes and the soul. It's also an opportunity for artists to nurture their business skills.

"A big part of this is that we're giving that opportunity and providing that platform for artists to connect and to sell and to get the business skills around inventory management, and marketing. All of the things that you need in order to sell, and work as an artist is built into the model of what we're doing at Route 22."

READ: Route 22 Collective Gallery opens Saturday June 13

Since 2020, the membership has grown, as has the range of their creative disciplines.

"This kind of funding helps us to keep growing. We've got, I think, between 65 and 70 member artists now. So coming from a couple of years ago where we had maybe half that amount. It's really picked up the scene quickly and we have people joining on a regular basis," she says.

"I think it's just a matter of time before we outgrow our space and move into a bigger location and keep this whole train moving forward."

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A wide range of visual artists are part of the collective and throughout the gallery, you'll find paintings, photography, woodwork, sculptures, and glasswork.

It regularly hosts a wide range of workshops and classes in all forms of visual arts.

Information on both can be found here.

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