History of the Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre

The Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre was founded in 1972 when a group of artists, working in a variety of media, presented a proposal to the Ingersoll Town Council to establish an arts centre in a vacant house, belonging to the municipality. The proposal was accepted and the new organization was granted a one year, rent-free trial period to prove its viability. With the hard work and dedication of artists and volunteers, a $500 grant from the Ontario Arts Council (Walter Sunahara), fund raising ventures and a partnering with Fanshawe College in London, we began a journey which will culminate in our 48th Anniversary celebration in the fall of 2020.

The Creative Arts Centre was established as a teaching centre. Classes were offered in painting, pottery and a variety of crafts that were popular at that time. We also offered exhibition space and a gift shop where members could sell their work. A small commission on sales was retained by the Centre.

130 King St. East
Original home of the Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre from 1972 to 1975.

In 1975, the Town Council decided to sell the house, and at same time planned to move the municipal offices from the historic Old Town Hall building to another location. The Town Hall was offered to the Arts Centre for a small annual payment and the CAC applied for, and received a Local Initiatives Grant – ( a winter works project for young people), to renovate the building to accommodate our needs. For more than 10 years, the Arts Centre flourished in this building and enjoyed the advantages of the central location and the increased space.

In 1979, some members of the quilting classes that were being offered, wanted to form a quilter’s guild so that they could bring in acclaimed teachers from beyond the local area and from the USA. The Oxford Quilters’ Guild was formed and with the support of the Centre, held monthly meetings. Each year a renowned teacher would be engaged by the guild to give workshops and to augment the quilting classes being offered at the Centre. This attracted many new members to the Centre.

Ingersoll Old Town Hall
located at the corner of King Street West and Oxford Street.
Historic home of the Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre from 1975 to 1986.

In 1985, the Town Hall building was deemed to have structural problems and so without warning, and because of insurance implications, we were required to vacate the building immediately. Determined to carry on, arrangements were made to teach our scheduled classes in various locations throughout the town, and to accept the generous offer of the Woodstock Art Gallery to share their exhibition space until we could find new accommodations. After months of searching, a small storefront space was rented, not far from the Old Town Hall. Member volunteers transformed this small space into a working Centre, with a tiny gift shop, exhibition space and a limited pottery studio. The base membership held on, in this location, for two years and during this time the quilters added an evening guild for those working during the day.

164 Oxford Street, Ingersoll
Historical home of the Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre from 1986 to 1988. Our furst rental property.

In 1988, we were offered a vacant building, owned by the Boy Scouts, which was located in a town park. This building had originally been an on-site office building for the construction of the Canada Cement plant (now Lafarge), in the late 1950’s. All of the construction buildings were given to Scout and Guide groups on completion of the project. When the Ingersoll Scouting Group was offered the building, the Town Council permitted them to place it in Victoria Park. Over the years it had become too costly for the Scouts to maintain and a sharing arrangement with a Rod & Custom group had petered out. The Arts Centre offered to reimburse the Scouts $500/yr for five years and the town required $1/yr for rental of the land.

Boy Scout Hall located in Victoria Park

The plywood clad building was reasonably sound but had been pretty well boarded up and neglected for some time and so needed a great deal of work to transform it into a working arts centre. Plans were drawn up and an application was made to the Ontario government for a grant to cover extensive renovations, both inside and out.

Building Committee Meeting
From left to right: Norma Nixon, Pru Barker, Jean Hillis, Shirley Lovell, Ian Robertson, Jim Robins, and Pat Gibson.
Volunteers staining the exterior

A fund-raising campaign was launched, a contractor was hired and members pitched in and did painting, both inside and out, floor refinishing etc. and by September 1988 we moved into the renovated building with many new windows, board and batten exterior siding, and bright well planned interior.

This new Arts Centre provided widespread interest in the surrounding area and membership began to grow dramatically. At this time also, the Oxford Quilters Guild began working on plans to co-host the Quilt Canada 1990 Conference (national) in Waterloo. This drew many new members to the guild and the meeting space became very over-crowded.

The Town Council granted permission to expand the facility within certain boundaries and in 1991 we embarked on another fund-raising campaign, applied for a Wintario grant and added an approximately 1200 sq. ft., $126,000 Fibre Arts wing to the building, increasing the overall floorspace to approx. 4000 sq. ft.. Through the generosity of our members and the community, some profit money from the conference, and the $70,000+ grant,we were able to pay for the new addition in two years without having to take out a bank loan.

Ribbon Cutting of the new wing (Fall 1992)
Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre 1992

This building has served us well. Over those years, small changes have been made to accommodate the growing needs of our Arts community. Two Trillium grants have provided assistance in upgrading office and storage facilities, improved flooring in the pottery studio as well as other necessary repairs. While our focus remains as a teaching and exhibition centre, we are also moving toward a studio-based facility as more and more of our members come to work on their own projects in this friendly and creative setting.

Building Description

The Creative Arts Centre consists of four main areas dividing the long low building. You enter the west end of the building into the Pottery Studio. It is a bright workspace, with large work tables, a wedging table, 7 wheels, shelving for green-ware, a slab roller, a flotation tank to capture clay from waste water so that it does not go down the drain, glazing area with exhaust system, clay storage room, kiln room with heavy duty exhaust fan and a washroom. There is a small exterior shed attached to this end of the building that holds supplies for raku firings. Potters will be found working here on most days
if classes are not taking place, with many working together on Thursdays – ‘pottery day’.

Moving to the east, there is a section of the building that consists of the Gift Shop at the front, a washroom and utility area (furnace and water heater in a small basement), a kitchen and storage corridor and the administrative office at the back. The office is equipped with two work-stations and computers for the administrator and any assistant that she may have.

The main exterior entrance to the Arts Centre leads into an open entry way with the Gift Shop to the right and the Gallery to the left. Exhibitions by local and area artists, usually hung for a 3 or 4 week period, are open to the public through the day during the week and for three hours on Sundays. Straight ahead is the glass door into the office and the classroom that also serves as a Rental Gallery. This area is really one large room that has 4’ x 8’ movable wall units. These can be lined up to separate the space into the two rooms – the gallery and the painting classroom, or the walls may be arranged creatively to utilize the whole space for larger exhibitions (Members Show) and special events (Christmas Sale).

Double doors from the Rental Gallery lead into a hallway that has a handicapped washroom on the left and a large storage room to the right (chairs, portable stage, extra tables, ladders etc. stored here) and from there into the Fibre Arts Room. There is a separate outside entrance into this room from the front of the building. It is a brightly lit room with high ceilings to accommodate hanging large quilts. Large tables, flannel design walls, electrical outlets along all the walls for sewing machines & irons etc., a tiny kitchen, projection equipment, including multimedia projector, overhead projector and pull down screen, sound system, computer, portable stage, cutting mats and other small tools and appliances, irons& ironing boards, all available for use of the members. A very large library of quilt and fibre arts related books, magazines and videos is also available to members. Groups of quilters can be found all day on Mondays and into the evening on Thursdays, sharing ideas and assisting each other while enjoying companionship of other quilt artists. Fibre Artists and Rug Hookers also gather for a full day twice a month to enjoy working together. Painters use this room once a week with the exception of Oxford Quilters’ Guild Meetings.

Several years ago the Centre was given a school portable and it has been placed in close proximity in the park. This serves as much needed storage for bulky items, used less often, as well as providing a safe area for mixing the chemical glazes for the pottery studio.

Across the front of the building there are beautiful English style gardens, lovingly tended to by one or two of the members. They add a wonderfully inviting impression to visitors to the Centre in growing season. At Christmas time, tiny white lights on grape-vine trees and wreaths welcome visitors from near and far.

The Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre is a vibrant community of artists, working and sharing, inspiring and supporting one another in this fine facility. We love our Centre!

History of Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre
(short version)

Ingersoll Creative Arts CentreThe Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre (ICAC) was started in 1972 by a small group of people who saw the need for artistic growth in the community. In the past 40 years we have grown into a unique organization with a membership of over 400 individuals, families and students, who actively participate in the multi-disciplined programs and exhibitions offered by the ICAC.

This 4500 square foot Centre includes a Fibre Arts Room, fully equipped Pottery Studio, Painting Studio, Exhibitions Gallery, and Gift Shop.

The Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre was established to provide the opportunity for creative expression and development of the people of this community. Under the instruction of highly qualified teachers and in an open, creative setting, people of all ages and economic levels have found a friendly, nourishing environment in which to explore this aspect of their “being”. For many this has provided a very satisfying leisure outlet and for a significant number, this has been a “launching pad” for exhibitions, awards and recognition’s. It has helped many artists learn about and develop some expertise in operating a small business.

Mandate:  To provide the opportunity for creative expression and development for those of all ages in Ingersoll and its environs.  Our aim is to offer a creative setting in a friendly, nourishing environment, and to be financially accessible so that no one is excluded.

Mission Statement:  To promote creative activity in the local community and surrounding area by providing programs, workshops, class instruction, and special events in all art forms and for all ages and tastes.

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