By Cecilia Nasmith
What seems at first glance to be an odd merger promises amazing benefits for both sides, as Northumberland 89.7 and The Gallery Shop at 8 Queen St., Port Hope, announce their merger.
The shop has operated in association with the Art Gallery of Northumberland since 1998, the press release said, but that relationship officially terminates as of April 30.
This new venture began when the station learned that the Art Gallery of Northumberland planned to cease operating the store.
“We had heard it was a reasonably successful operation, and were kind of surprised,” station chair Barry Walker related in a subsequent interview.
“The thought occurred that, if we were to take it on under our umbrella, the shop would continue. Otherwise, it was going to close down and Port Hope would be losing that shop – but, equally important, it would be the local artists who would be losing an outlet for many of their wares and their artistic crafts.”
With 20 years behind it, Walker said, it was obviously well established. Losing it would have definitely left a gap on many fronts.
“It was made clear to us, if the station did not step in, the shop would be closing down.”
Discussions ensued to ascertain how practicable taking on the shop might be, he continued, and a plan to do so developed. It also became clear how both sides could benefit.
Revenues that formerly went into the Art Gallery of Northumberland coffers will now go to Northumberland 89.7 in support of advertising for The Gallery Shop. The advertising will promote not only the shop, but its artists and the various art exhibits and events in the community.
“To save an institution like that would be a good thing for us to do, a public services as much as anything else,” Walker stated.
“We thought there was a connection between the two operations, even though they seem to be quite apart. We are both very much not-for-profit community organizations. But in this case, we are serving the broader community.
“Certainly the shop is in Port Hope, but it provides a service for all the artists in Northumberland. I'm not aware of anything comparable out there.”
Shop manager Joan Tooke expressed her delight with the new development in the press release.
“The shop will continue to operate as it has for the last 20 years, with the help of a large, enthusiastic complement of volunteers,” she added.
“The new Northumberland Arts, Gallery and Shop at 8 Queen St. will continue to be a destination for those seeking outstanding work from the talented artists and craftspeople in Northumberland County and beyond.”
“The board of directors and volunteers of Northumberland 89.7 are proud to be associated with the shop, an integral part of the Port Hope downtown landscape,” Walker stated.