On October 11, the craft incubator space at the former Customs House building in Port Hawkesbury - under the direction of the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design, in partnership with the Town of Port Hawkesbury - was officially opened.

PORT HAWKESBURY: The ribbon was cut and toasts were hoisted at a new craft incubator space in the town.

On October 18, the official opening was held for the new Craft Incubator Program which set up shot at the former Customs House building on Granville Street in Port Hawkesbury.

Under the direction of the Cape Breton Centre of Craft and Design in partnership with the Town of Port Hawkesbury, the retail and artistic space has been open since July and has been attracting locals and tourists alike.

Contributed photo.
The new Craft Incubator program will be housed in the former customs building on Granville Street.

Following a Canada-wide search, in September, four artists were selected to take up residence in the building that once housed the town’s post office.

The program gives the artists access to a newly-renovated studio with subsidized rent and a retail space where they can display and sell their work. They also receive business development support, including training sessions on building and maintaining Web sites, pricing their work, grant writing, and accounting.

Minister Derek Mombourquette said the province invested $71,000 because this project advances its Cultural Action Plan.

“The Customs House Artistans Incubator Program is a good example of the centre’s inventiveness and vision which we support,” he told the crowd at last week’s event.

Mombourquette said the group of artists was selected from a competitive global recruitment process.

Artists must agree to stay for a minimum of one year with the option of renewing their residency for up to three years. The hope of the centre is that the artisans will stay for the long-term.

The group of artists in residence includes Natasha Matthews, a jewelry artist who recently arrived from Winnipeg, as well as leather goods artist Kyle McPhee who has returned home to Cape Breton from Ontario to take part in the program. The studio also features potter Tessa Reed from Vancouver, who creates functional pieces, often featuring whimsical animals, and Josie Robinson, a textile artist from Robson Valley, British Columbia who specializes in plant-based dyes and pigments.

At the official opening of the craft incubator space in Port Hawkesbury on October 11 were (from the left): provincial minister Derek Mombourquette and artists Tesa Reid, Kyle McPhee, Tasha Mathews and Josie Robinson, along with Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm Beaton.

Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm Beaton described the project as “essential” to plans for the town’s waterfront.

“This is a very exciting day at this grand opening in celebrating the diversity in art, in culture, in innovation here in the Town of Port Hawkesbury,” she noted.

“We have this wonderful opportunity to give our waterfront a new vision and the vision could be a very wonderful art and culture section. We have Granville Green, we have this beautiful building today with wonderful artists.”

Chisholm Beaton said the artists have been adding “tremendous value” to the community and she added thanks to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Cape Breton Partnership for their help with the project.