Published: February 28, 2018
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
Attendance records at a local facility continue to be broken thanks to experimentation and flexibility.
Red Lake Regional Heritage Center Director Trevor Osmond says for a second year in a row the facility has smashed its all time attendance count prior to 2016.
Osmond says the building received more than 9,000 visitors in 2017 beating the previous year’s record of over 7,000 visitors and posting the highest turn out in the building’s history. He attributes the increase to a willingness of staff to experiment and be flexible in the timing and the nature of its programming.
“Once we got our footing we were able to start experimenting. I think with a younger group in the Heritage Centre there is a lot more room for experimentation,” he said of the new team, which has taken shape in the last three years.
“We expanded our events and programs to really reach out to all members of the community. We had just more events as well. One of the big things that we did last year is that we had Movie Nights, funded by Goldcorp, it just drove people to be interested and to get used to coming here.
We also had the Red Lake Speaker Series and we had a variety of educational programs. One of the biggest things is that we have just become a little more intertwined in the community.”
Representatives of the organization also sit on various boards including the Red Lake Arts Council, the Red Lake Indian Friendship Centre board, the Winter Carnival, Norseman Committee and Red Lake Tourism, which Osmond says are partnerships that have been beneficial for visibility.
“We are part of a lot of things and as a result far more people get to see what we are up to and more and more we get to put their two cents in and create their own things.”
With more external, non-history based events, happening at the facility, Osmond challenges the notion the building is becoming an event centre, rather than a museum.
“We want to keep that museum component strong and alive but there is sort of a paradigm shift in the museum world right now where in order to keep it running, to keep people in, you have to compete.”
An example of experimental programming has been the compilation of the Red Lake Youth Art Show, which is currently on display at the facility. Osmond says the idea was one that stemmed from a partnership with the Red Lake Arts Council and an interested party looking for a venue to display youth art.
“Younger groups generally have a theme that they go with and it is really neat to see each individual’s take on that theme,” said Osmond noting there are varying styles throughout the show.
“Some of the older students have come out with things that are surprising. I think in the future Red Lake is going to have a whole new crop of amazing artists.
The Youth Art Show opened over the Winter Carnival weekend and features 200 art pieces from various school aged children from around the district. The show will run until the end of March.