The Ted Harrison Artist Retreat hopes more artists and arts organizations can benefit from the gorgeous space it has to offer.

To that end, it has changed its programming policy a little.

Robin Armour, a photographer recently retired from YTG, has been involved in the program since its inception when Ted Harrison donated the land to make it happen. He was instrumental in planning and setting up the building.

For years, he studiously stayed away from the position of chair on the board, but he’s been in that role for three years now.

For six years, the program has been offering artists from the Yukon, the rest of Canada and other countries, as well, the chance to delve into their art practice without outside distractions, for up to three months at a time.

The artists stay in a palatial log building on the shore of Crag Lake between Carcross and Tagish. The location is remarkable and the studio is 900 square feet.

The program provides funding for these artists to offer a day or two of workshops in the Carcross school and supports them in offering workshops to the general community as well.

Artists apply to the retreat and are juried in. The next deadline for applications will be April 2010.

But now, these juried spots will last six to eight weeks. This will free up some time for community use.

Artists and arts organizations can submit proposals to the board on an ongoing basis. The board will look most favourably on proposals with a strong visual arts element. Armour would like to see many more workshops take place out in the lovely facility.

The fee to use the space will depend on the amount of time it’s used and will amount to covering the day-to-day running costs of keeping the facility open – the heat and electricity.

The intent is twofold.

Armour and his board want to see wider use of the facility. They also would like to increase the revenue sources for the organization so that it’s not just government funding and donations. That way, the donations can go more toward capital costs: keeping the roof in good repair, replacing the refrigerator and so on.

Armour aims to set up the retreat to accommodate six to eight students. He has been renovating Harrison’s original cabin to bunk students, at least during the warmer months. That way, weekend workshops could be offered without participants needing to make the hour drive back and forth to town.

This year, the retreat is open to community bookings November 1 to December 19 and March 7 to April 23. Bookings may be made for a six-week duration, but Armour anticipates they will be mostly much shorter than that.

On a personal note, I was their artist-in-residence in March 2005, and it’s a wonderful time of year. The sunshine beams in off the still snow-covered lake, warming the porch.

This year, the first summer community slot, July 27 to September 5, has been booked by Tuktu Studios.

Joyce Majiski has been organizing LLAMA (www.beannorth.com/giving_back/project-llama), a collaboration with artists from Mexico. This will culminate in a show at the Yukon Arts Centre, in November.

Armour anticipates another community slot will be made available next summer.

He admits that all these changeovers will make more work for his volunteer board, but it’s the “best board we’ve ever had”, so he figures they can handle it.

If you have an idea that you could use the retreat space for, contact Robin Armour at krarmour@northwestel.net.

Coming up at the retreat, the current artist-in-residence, Vickie Newington, will be offering one of the first overnight workshops. July 18 and 19, the fabric artist from Calgary will offer a two-part workshop beginning with design and composition in fabric arts, then techniques of burlap weaving.