Guests gathered recently at the Eptek Art and Culture Centre to celebrate its re-opening after renovations to bring the Summerside facility up to code after turning 40 and the launch of a book that showcases 36 significant architectural properties in Summerside, which are a major draw to the city.
David Keenlyside, executive director of the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation, said the richness of cultural institutions are based on how much you invest in them.
“Over the last five years we’ve averaged between 10,000 to 15,000 people coming through (Eptek Centre) each year. We hope the facility will now get more attention because of the recent renovations,” Keenlyside said.
The Eptek Centre underwent a major facelift over the past year, costing an estimates $150,000. Safety and quality of the environment were addressed. This included structural deficiencies, accessible washrooms and a splash of exterior colour to give the centre identity and pride.
“This was an opportunity to recognize a cultural hub that’s been here for many years, but to up our game,” said Keenlyside, who hopes Eptek Centre will now be a dynamic, multicultural place that will not just attract tourists, but Islanders and school groups throughout the year.
“We are part of the knowledge network and we have to provide things that are engaging to people, not just to tourists but to Islanders as well. Schools are a major component and connecting our exhibits to their curriculum is a way to move forward,” he said.
Among the special guests at the re-opening was Summerside artist and new author Eddy Schwartz.
Schwartz launched a book of his paintings “Yesterday, Today: A Portrait of Summerside” (Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation) as part of the ceremony.
“My artwork has been printed in other sources, but this is the first time my artwork has been honoured by being displayed and printed for people to have in their homes. I notice a lot of people are making gifts out of the books, and to me it’s a wonder, a big deal, and I’m tingling. It’s a good thing,” said Schwartz, who was kept busy signing copies.
“Eddie looks up, all around, he takes in the beauty of everything. He always had a good interest in the city’s art and culture,” said Carolyn McKillop, chairwoman of the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation.
“I’ve travelled across Canada and have seen old properties demolished to make way for parking lots or fast food restaurants. It's significant history lost. We must preserve what we have – this is the final, bottom line. We are lucky to have these heritage homes in Summerside, so lucky,” concluded Schwartz.