Letter to the Editor

Hougen Group supports artists As a member of the business community, we would like to express our views on the public art galleries in our community.

Hougen Group supports artists

As a member of the business community, we would like to express our views on the public art galleries in our community.

The Hougen Group of Companies has a strong relationship with the arts community. One of the many commitments we have made to the arts community is that we donate space, electricity and heat to the Yukon Art Society on the lower level of the Hougen Centre (operating as Arts nderground).

The Yukon Art Society is a non-profit organization mandated to foster development of Yukon visual artists and broaden public appreciation of visual art.

The contribution by the Hougen Group of Companies amounts to an estimated annual value of $100,000.

In return YAS oversees the management of the facility and its many features, which include two galleries; the Hougen Heritage Gallery (which is programmed by MacBride Museum and the Friends of the Yukon Archive Society) and the Yukon Arts Society Gallery (programmed by YAS), which is open to all northern artists, with a special emphasis placed upon emerging artists.

Arts Underground supports a large studio and separate darkroom and resource centre dedicated to art education for the whole community including children, youth and adults.

The YAS professional and creative development program for artists is also delivered in the space.

We support and encourage the efforts of the Yukon Art Society to promote and sell original art in Arts Underground.

Since YAS has moved from its previous location in the Captain Martin House to Arts Underground its membership has not only increased, but is seeing a shift to greater numbers of emerging and mid-career professional artists.

With the shifting membership came an increase in applications for exhibitions from artists just starting out, to seasoned professionals.

It is important to point out that one of the main reasons that YAS receives the number of applications that it does is that it is not looking at the work from a commercial perspective.

The opportunity to exhibit regardless of commercial viability is what organizations such as the Yukon Art Centre and the Yukon Art Society provide.

Artists who may never be considered by a commercial gallery because their work is too unusual or unknown will still receive an opportunity to exhibit their work.

On the flipside, an artist creating work that is highly marketable will not be turned away either.

In many cases, this is the first opportunity artists have to show their work and gain recognition.

We believe that this opportunity is not “unfair competition” but a valuable addition to our community even though revenue from the sale of this art could, arguably, have gone to other stores in the Hougen Centre including the art that is sold at Zola’s Café Dore and the arts and crafts available at Gold Panner Gift Shop.

Public galleries, such as the Yukon Arts Centre and Arts Underground, create a venue for artists to develop a name, which in turn creates a demand for their work, which ultimately drives clientele to the retail galleries.

A strong arts community is a strong economic driver for the whole community.

Currently, the Yukon Arts Centre Gallery is showcasing a selection of works from a group of artists called Yukon Artists at Work.

We believe that this is not “unfair competition” but that it, like Arts Underground, is a valuable addition to our community.

The YAC chose artists who happen to be part of a group. Each member in that group is an individual artist and businessperson.

The goal is to support and encourage a vibrant and healthy creative community, which will in turn create economic spinoffs and potential to the rest of our community.

It is our opinion that supporting a vibrant arts community will benefit the retail sector and our community as a whole.


Kevin Benson, vice-president, finance and operations, Hougen Group of Companies, Whitehorse

Caring students

FH Collins Social Justice Club has raised $6,000 to build a school in Sierra Leone.

The Social Justice Club is a group of students and teachers who are dedicated to raising awareness and taking action on social justice issues: both local and global.

Two years ago, the club members decided to start a fundraising campaign to promote children’s education in the developing world.

Their goal: to raise $6,000 to build a school in Sierra Leone.

Through a Free the Children campaign called Brick by Brick, FH Collins, with help from Vanier Catholic Secondary School and Whitehorse Elementary School, has reached its fund-raising goal.

Plus, an additional $1,800 was raised to pay for the salary of a teacher for one year!

The money has been sent to Free the Children, and there will soon be a new school for students in Sierra Leone.

This is an incredible example of students choosing an issue and having the motivation to create positive change.

Education is key to ending so many problems facing the world today.

Education is an essential part in breaking the cycle of poverty and the spread of disease.

Education fosters peace, democracy and respect for others — all major ingredients in the recipe for a better world.

Most importantly, education gives people a sense of self-worth and opens doors of opportunity for the future.

Students can make a difference! This has been demonstrated by the FH Collins Social Justice Club and its efforts to promote education.


Marie Abbott


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