Keeping the art in Artesian

The Artesian, a popular arts venue in Regina’s cathedral neighbourhood, is a safe space for artists to showcase their work. Photo by Kaitlyn Schropp

Standing in the heart of Regina’s Cathedral area is an old church, now known as the Artesian. But this former church now holds another purpose – to share art.

“It’s a great place to see entertainment in our community,” said Dana Rempel, the managing director of the Artesian. “Entertainment and art are an important part of how we engage with the world.

“Without spaces like the Artesian, not only would artists not have a place to show their stuff, but people like you and I wouldn’t have a place to go see music or theatre or film or lectures.”

The Artesian also showcases improv, dance, storytelling, and comedy nights and hosts weddings, graduations, meetings and other community events.

“The only thing that kind of stands between art being made, is whether [artists] have a place to do it,” said Rempel.

Rempel describes the building as the middle ground between large spaces like the Conexus Arts Centre and the Globe Theatre and small spaces like local coffee shops.

“It’s a great community to have in Regina, a great place to just come together and laugh and drink in a safe space and be with friends and community,” said Mika Abbott, a University of Regina arts student, who has been going to the facility to watch improv since high school.

When asked what she loves about the Artesian, Abbott said: “I think the building is neat but the events that they hold there, I don’t think you’ll find them anywhere else.”

This same perspective was shared from a performer.

“I love the feeling of being on the stage,” said Ann King, who has been performing improv at the Artesian for two years. “It’s just a warm place.”

The facility has stood on the southeast corner of 13th Avenue and Angus Street for 70 years. Originally designed and built by the famous Saskatchewan architects Storey and Van Egmond, the Artesian first existed as Calvary Evangelical Church.

According to the cornerstone of the former church, now called the Artesian, the building has stood on the corner of 13th Avenue and Angus Street for 70 years. Photo by Kaitlyn Schropp

As you step into the main room a hardwood dance floor leads to the stage that was once an altar. And the back of the room is lined with pews and a balcony. When at full capacity, the main room can hold 175, but feels far more intimate. And the once simple basement is now a retro-inspired lounge and bar.

“I love that the basement has all this really comfortable familiar furniture and art, and the bartenders are really funny and nice,” said King. “I love that you can just sit on the couches with your team and have a drink before the show.”

“The comfort of the venue takes away any fear that you might have about going out there and doing something insane or crazy or new,” said King.

The Artesian strives to be a safe and inclusive venue, which means it will not tolerate sexism, racism, violence, homophobia, transphobia, or hate. The Artesian is also wheelchair accessible.

Robin Nimegeers shares her story of her trip to India at the Storytellers Club held at the Artesian on Sept. 13, 2019. Photo by Kaitlyn Schropp

“There’s no way to guarantee those things,” said Rempel, when asked about the importance of the space being safe and inclusive. “It’s important to us as an organization to commit to doing the best we can to decrease the chances that anyone would experience harassment, homophobia, transphobia, any of that kind of stuff in our space and in our community.”

Abbott has witnessed this first hand.

“They’re just so inclusive of everyone,” said Abbott. “I never feel out of place there and I never feel like I have to be something I’m not. I can just go and enjoy my time.”

The Artesian’s next event which is part of the Heritage Regina Lecture Series, will be held on Jan. 30.

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