As the guard continues changing at arts organizations across the city—and as many of the same cultural linchpins are fighting to keep footing during what many in the sector agree is a venue crisis a decade in the making—a press release from Eyelevel artist-run centre landed in my inbox today, squarely under the file of good news: The centre is adding a second artistic director as it ramps up its offered programming.
Back in January of 2020, when Eyelevel artist-run centre’s artistic director, Sally Wolchyn-Raab, was giving me a tour of the gallery’s then-new digs (in the upstairs portion of 2177 Gottingen Street, above DIY community hub Radstorm), we talked about representation in the arts and how to create meaningful employment in an industry filled with one-year contracts. Eyelevel itself had a survivor’s spirit, operating for years as a spaceless gallery (meaning it hosted pop-up programming in various venues around town) while its office was yet another example of the lease-insecure arts organizations in Halifax. (Before Gottingen Street, which Wolchyn-Raab described to me in 2021 as an “emergency move,” Eyelevel’s office had been on nearby Cornwallis Street. "Towards the end when it rained, it rained in my office" she told me of the relocation’s impetus.)
Eyelevel would move again during the pandemic era—this time swapping its space above Radstorm for a spot in the 2482 Maynard Project, a dedicated visual arts facility that houses The Blue Building Gallery, Wonder’neath Art Society and a smattering of studio space for working artists that opened in 2020. It was, after seven-plus years of packing and unpacking, a chance to stay put, Wolchyn-Raab told me by phone in 2021: Eyelevel had been “a smaller nonprofit that has been at the whim of north end gentrification for a long time, getting priced out of spaces over and over again.”
Today’s press release—announcing that Wolchyn-Raab will now be co-director of the artist-run centre alongside Wren Tian (who steered the ship while Wolchyn-Raab was out on parental leave)—feels like the sort of good growth and stability that can finally happen when cultural organizations are given the resources to focus on their work instead of how to hardscrabble a roof over their heads.
“Wren and Sally will be working collaboratively on Eyelevel's programming, outreach, and administration,” adds the press release. “With the addition of a second dedicated staff person, we hope that this empowers us to enrich our major projects and deepen the support that we aim to give to our community.”