Melissa Burgher is the new co-ordinator of Surrey Art Gallery Association’s Art Rental Program. (submitted photo)

Melissa Burgher is the new co-ordinator of Surrey Art Gallery Association’s Art Rental Program. (submitted photo)

Surrey art-rental program is getting overhauled, with eyes online

Clients include individuals and businesses looking to spruce up a home or office

Surrey Art Gallery Association is preparing to launch a revamped Art Rental Program that aims to give artists greater online exposure and, ultimately, sales of their work.

The work to overhaul the “try before you buy” program is led by co-ordinator Melissa Burgher, who grew up in South Surrey and now calls Port Coquitlam home.

She said SAGA’s existing rental program needed a refresh.

“There’s always been a position like this and it’s always been volunteer,” Burgher said. “Surrey has some amazing artists but the issue with how the program was working is that there was no application process, so I’ve come in with a much stronger application process. And because of that, we’re also requiring more of the artist and that will hopefully benefit the artist, right, with help to write a good CV, how to take good photos of paintings, things like that.”

Art rental program clients include individuals and businesses looking to spruce up a home or office with locally-made art, and also help local artists financially.

“Art is not accessible to everybody, it’s often very expensive, it’s lavish – at least some people think,” said Burgher, a SAGA board member for two years. “But with this, somebody can rent an artwork, a painting, for five per cent of the total cost, per month. What happens is, after six months and they want to buy it, that whole six months (fee) goes toward the final sale.”

With the program overhaul, Burgher’s first task was to clear out existing art as a way of “completely washing the whole thing and cleaning it up.” SAGA member artists are welcome to apply with email sent to artrental@sagabc.com, and details are posted to sagabc.com/art-rental.

“The application has now gone out to all those artists, and we’d love to have them back,” Burgher explained. “Our focus is always on Surrey artists, we want that to be the bulk of who we represent, and those applications are coming in. I also manage the Facebook and Instagram, social media, so I’ll be able upload on there and hopefully within six months to a year I’ll be able to get products to shops, and also just try to take things online more and reach people virtually as much as possible.”

SAGA’s website (SAGABC.com) is a place where buyers can browse and buy art made by Surrey-area artists and artisans, in an Online Gift Shop.

The non-profit society is dedicated to supporting Surrey Art Gallery, at Bear Creek Park’s Surrey Arts Centre.

“At the theatre there during performances, we’d get the odd person buying a painting, but we haven’t had those performances, of course (due to the pandemic),” said Burgher, who noted one artist’s sale of multiple works worth around $13,000 to an insurance company three years ago.

“What I’m seeing during COVID is people aren’t travelling, and myself and a few other artists I know have actually benefited from COVID, because we’ve had our online game strong,” Burgher added. “The artists who don’t have their online game strong have suffered, unfortunately, but through SAGA we really want to educate and, you know, help those artists be successful and reach a higher level of professionalism.”

SAGA hosts Thursday Artist Talk sessions that have shifted online during the pandemic.

From March 20 to 26 SAGA will host an online Competitive Oil Paint-Off, on Facebook and Instagram channels. Artists will have one week to create an oil painting in any style or with any subject they prefer. Artists will be required to post their process and final painting on IG (story or feed). Supplies and an honorarium are provided by SAGA and three winners will be chosen. To learn more about the selected artists and see how their work unfolds, follow SAGA on IG/FB, @surreyartgalleryassociation. To get involved, email artrental@sagabc.com.

Also next month, Burgher has planned “At Home: Healing Through Nature,” a solo exhibit of her works on March 6-7, by appointment only at her studio in Port Coquitlam. For details, visit https://calendly.com/melissaburgherartshows/at-home-healing-through-art or melissaburgherfineart.com.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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