“We Can Absolutely Do This”: Harcourt House Gets One More Year to Reach its Fundraising Goal

While the artist-run centre has raised just five per cent of what's needed, there is confidence that the target will be reached by late 2024
Edmund Haakonson speaks at Harcourt House in front of artist Mary Whale's exhibit, "Between the Lines."

Harcourt House will live for another year. The society that administers the artist-run studio, gallery and education space has been granted an extension by the provincial government to raise the $3.5 million needed to ensure its survival, as is.

In 2022, the provincial government informed Harcourt House that it will no longer lease the space to it. In order for Harcourt House to continue in its location in Oliver, the society would need to purchase the space outright. The deadline to raise those funds has been extended to Nov. 30, 2024.

Harcourt House just celebrated its 35th anniversary.

Edmund Haakonson, is the president of the Where Edmonton Community Artists Network (W.E.C.A.N.), which administers Harcourt House. He admitted that the original 2023 deadline “may have been a bit optimistic,” but is confident that, with the added time, Harcourt House can be saved.

“Harcourt House will be here for another year, for sure,” he said. “We now continue the work in raising the funds needed to purchase Harcourt House.”

As of right now, Harcourt House has just five per cent of the money needed to purchase the space. But Haakonson said that’s not as scary as it seems.

“The conversations we’re having, especially with levels of government, take what I will describe as a remarkably long time. Those conversations began a year and a half ago. But, all of the groundwork is now laid — and the ability to bring that to fruition in a year is within the realm of possibility.”

He believes, now that talks are wrapping up, that “all of a sudden, one of the partners in this comes forward with funds and that opens the floodgates.

“When the government conversations come to fruition, we can absolutely do this.”

While Haakonson was bullish, he did admit that W.E.C.A.N. does have a doomsday contingency scenario in place, in case funding does not come through.

“In terms of studios, and this is Plan Y, we do have a plan in case this does not work out. It’s a plan that we’re hoping that we do not have to engage with… If we are not able to purchase this facility, the studio spaces just disappear. The exhibition spaces and the education spaces will move somewhere else.”

There are around 45 artists using those studios.