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Victoria’s first Creative Reuse Centre opens to make art affordable

Ashley Howe has two intense passions — recycling and art.

Now, she’s married artistry and sustainability to bring the first place of its kind to the province, where people can buy low-cost art supplies and reduce waste at the same time. Think of it as a thrift store for uber-cool art supplies.

<who> Photo credit: Ashley Howe</who>

“I’m so excited,” Howe tells VictoriaNow. “It’s been years in the making.”

Howe is the Executive Director of SUPPLY, and tomorrow she’ll cut the ribbon to reveal her dream. Victoria's Creative Reuse Centre will be the first site of its kind in the city — a place where artists, teachers, and students can purchase reused materials to make their inspired creations.

Because art supplies ain’t cheap. And so much gets thrown out.

Howe spent most of her life in Portland, Oregon volunteering, working, and learning from a variety of reuse and art organizations. She noticed that Canada was lacking in that area, so she picked Victoria as the ideal place to start something new.

“I’m just really passionate about reuse and reclaiming things. And seeing things in a different light,” says Howe.

<who> Photo credit: Ashley Howe</who>

“I’m also an artist who went to art school and I remember being a student and struggling to buy supplies.”

The downtown Reuse Centre will not only provide art supplies rescued from landfills and offices, it will offer workshops, take-home kits, and house space for artists and collectives. The building is already home to the Ministry of Casual Living, Rockslide Gallery, Sweetpea Gallery, Victoria Tool Library, and almost 70 studios.

With all the affordable materials and artists populating the place, the SUPPLY Creative Reuse Centre stands to be a hub of inspirational energy for the whole city.

“It’s a really cool building with super high ceilings. It was originally built in 1939 as a hospital, but never used for that purpose. Then it was the Ministry of Power and Forestry, and has a lot of original ironwork and design,” Howe says.

The grand opening of the centre takes place this Saturday at 11a.m. on 750 Fairfield Road. The non-profit will be joined by the Mayor for the ceremony, and provide tours, crafting seminars, and some tasty treats.

“We hope to be a resource for Victoria’s teachers that often have to pay for their own materials out of their own pocket. And students and artists who struggle to afford materials as well.”

“The art supplies here are creative and sustainable,” she says. “And, I would say, way more inspired than other traditional art supplies.”

More information can be found at SUPPLY.

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