WHAT: Copper and Fire Arts Festival
WHERE: Britannia Mine Museum
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 6; Sunday, Aug. 7
When the Copper and Fire Arts Festival hits Britannia Mine Museum this weekend, visitors will find it revamped and refurbished - a sign of the museum's new focus on the arts to attract visitors.
Since its relaunch in 2010, the museum has introduced a number of ways for people to connect with and learn from the history of mining. Kirstin Clausen, executive director of the museum, says there's a new focus on the arts since that's often the most direct, visceral avenue for people to connect with any subject. When it comes to mining, there's a range of connections they can make without even realizing it.
"If you think, 'Mining's not relevant to me,' you just have to look at the ring on your hand and say, 'Well maybe it is,'" she said.
"People respond emotionally to a piece of art," she added. "Then they take it back and think, 'Oh, it's marble' or 'Oh, it's made of metal,' which of course is a mined product. You may find that the emotional connection to mining through an aesthetic beauty, and then there's also just the pure beauty of minerals."
She says even the iconic mill building, which the museum is known for, is pure form and function, an example of the industrial aesthetic that defined that period in time for that specific use. It's a work of art as a result.
With Copper and Fire, the museum is trying to connect local and regional artists. This year will include "Unearthed," an exhibition by textile artist Patricia Chauncey, who has created a series of pieces made from mined materials specifically for the festival. Also on the bill for Saturday is Joseph "Pepe" Danza, who uses found objects and stones as musical instruments. The festival will also include work from local artists, musicians, sculptors and potters, exemplifying how the recently relaunched museum is focusing on the arts to lure visitors in to connect to the history of the mine.
A multi-million dollar capital investment allowed the museum to restructure and revamp its operations, leading to an aggressive marketing campaign. The arts, Clausen says, are essential to this campaign. Currently, they're focusing their marketing campaign toward families in and around Metro Vancouver as a place that should be visited more than once to fully appreciate. She says that a majority of their visitors are people pulling off the highway en route to another destination.
"Even though the museum has been here for 35 years, we are in year one of business," Clausen said. "We have the benefit of 30 years of name and place recognition but this is a brand new business that we have just launched."
That means that they are moving into events slowly but surely, refining the offerings that are known to bring in visitors. The Symphony at the Mine in May attracted nearly 300 people on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The Copper and Fire show has been refined over the past eight years, grown slowly for what their budget could afford, and this year is a step up from the years previous.
"The mine museum has a responsibility to find how we connect with our mandate, to do it from a particular focus with people who are looking for a focus," Clausen said.