Exchanging Words with Finch Gallery Workspace

Karen Kornelsen Blog

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Dani Finch (left) and Tara Davis (right)

The arts scene in the Exchange District has long been an integral part of this tightly-knit neighbourhood. With the highest concentration of artist studios, galleries and art spaces in Winnipeg, collaborations and endless inspiration are everywhere. The historic buildings capture the imagination while the people inside these buildings provide a network of support for each other, fostering this ultra-collaborative community. The newest exciting addition to the neighbourhood is Finch Gallery Workspace. This gallery and workshop space is already seamlessly weaving itself into the Exchange’s creative fabric because of the passion and hard work of business partners, Dani Finch and Tara Davis.

Finch Gallery Workspace represents the work of emerging, mid-career and established artists in a variety of styles and mediums. The commercial gallery provides a venue for these artists to display work and to interact with clients and each other. The gallery works to actively promote the artwork to a diverse Winnipeg audience.

The gallery came from a vision both Tara and Dani shared. The two met three years ago when they were both on the board of directors for First Fridays in the Exchange, the largest free monthly arts event in Winnipeg. They stayed in touch after they left the board.

“Tara knew I was looking to get back into the arts, that I wanted to open a gallery one day and also knew the space at 74 Princess Street was available through Centre Venture’s PUSH program,” says Finch. “We already knew we worked well together and our desire to create a gallery that was also a community space was a shared one. Tara offered to help me in getting things started and take on a mentorship/partnership role in getting the gallery going.” Having the support of CentreVenture made it a low risk opportunity to try out their gallery concept.

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CentreVenture’s PUSH Program matches entrepreneurs with building owners who have vacant storefront in the downtown. CentreVenture helps the entrepreneur get established in a new space and partially subsidizes rent for three months. Many PUSH program participants in the Exchange have ended up establishing permanent businesses after three months.

“Tara knew the space at 74 Princess was available through Centre Venture and as soon as she showed me, I was excited to jump on the opportunity” Finch said. “The PUSH program offers a low risk environment for emerging businesses like us to test the market and make a go of it. They help with things like low rent, signage, and helping tenants build relationships with landlords. We knew it would be a great way to try out our gallery and see if it was something the community would get on board with.”

In a refreshing new approach for a gallery in The Exchange District, Finch Gallery Workspace also provides event and workshop space to local makers and clients. They welcome a wide-range of workshops and events, from painting workshops to artist talks to beading classes and anything else the creative community might imagine. The welcoming, storefront gallery also offers an alternative community workspace, where they welcome anyone to come and be inspired in their space for studying, holding a small meeting, or simply enjoying some quiet time.

“Our tagline says it best: Art. Community. Collaboration,” says Davis. “Our mission is simple: to promote art, to actively participate in our community, and to work in collaboration with those who share our vision.”

Finch opened its doors at the beginning of September and Tara and Dani have already taken part in the two biggest arts events in Winnipeg: First Fridays in the Exchange and Nuit Blanche.

“The number of people we’ve had come through to visit the gallery on Nuit Blanche and First Fridays has been great for us,” explains Davis. “Both of the events have really helped us bring people through our doors and establish a presence in the neighbourhood. Both Nuit Blanche and First Fridays bring out lots of art enjoyers who want to explore new spaces, and we’ve enjoyed hearing the positive feedback from people who discover Finch for the first time.”

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Ending up in the Exchange District was no accident. Just a few blocks away, Tara Davis owns and runs Tara Davis Studio Boutique at 246 McDermot and has previously held studio space in the neighbourhood. Dani has spent years working in the Exchange as well. They both share a passion for the area and it was just meant to be that 74 Princess was available through the PUSH program.

“We can’t imagine being somewhere else than the Exchange District,” says Finch. “The Exchange District is home to so many supportive business owners and artists, and it’s been really fantastic to be a part of it and experience that support as a new business. Being a part of a group of hardworking entrepreneurs and creatives creates a really unique vibe in the neighbourhood.”

“It’s also a community of customers and visitors who are just as supportive,” adds Davis. “It’s been pretty overwhelming (in a good way) to experience the positive feedback we have even just in one month of being open.”

Tara and Dani are already looking ahead to the future of Finch after the PUSH program ends.

“We are really hoping to stay at 74 Princess in the long term and are working on an offer to lease,” says Finch. “Regardless, after the program ends it won’t be the end of Finch. Even in the first month of opening, the support and feedback we’ve received tells us this is something we need to keep doing long term and we are excited to continue on this path and see where it takes us!”

Visit Finch Gallery Workspace today at 74 Princess Street in the Exchange or at www.finchgalleryworkspace.ca.