Bear Lind, left, Frank George and April McCarthy sit in the Bear Arts Club building on Bute Street. Lind wants to offer the community around Fourth Avenue and Bute a place to come and create. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Alberni man opens arts club for underprivileged

Bear Lind hopes centre will give kids, adults supplies and a place to create art

A new creative space is evolving in a building on Bute Street, in the heart of a neighbourhood that has gained attention in Port Alberni due to the number of street people who call it home.

Bear Lind and April McCarthy are friends who rent rooms above the space. They came up with the concept for the art co-op and their landlord has given them two months’ free rent for the Bear Arts Club. After that, they are hoping memberships will sustain the studio.

The Bear Arts Club, in Lind’s words, “is a co-op art space for people to be creative in art, drama, music.”

“Our main (reason) is street people have nothing to do and we’re giving them something to do,” he says. “I’ve met so many First Nations artists on the street that have no supplies.”

The arts club will have a First Nations focus, and will also cater to youth programs like art classes, drama, open mic day, Facebook Live shows on First Nations rights, homelessness and poverty.

“A lot of people don’t know how many youth are in this area,” adds Lind, who has both lived on the street and helped set up other community centres in the Lower Mainland. “There’s some really cool kids in this neighbourhood.”

Lind, who moved to Port Alberni a few years ago to be with family after losing everything in an apartment fire in Port Hardy, knows what it’s like to have little. That has never been a barrier for his previous community work, he says, and it isn’t now.

“Our club is starting with three people on welfare who just want to help people be creative.”

The third person in their trio is Frank George, a First Nations carver who spends time at Victoria Quay and Harbour Quay carving outside in the good weather.

Lind, George and McCarthy will officially open the Bear Arts Club at 4824 Bute St. on Saturday, Oct. 13.

The event will feature a debate among mayoral candidates at 2 p.m. that Lind hopes to broadcast on Facebook Live so people can ask questions. He has reached out to all the mayoral candidates, he said.

Lind has a growing number of people who have purchased memberships—they cost $2 per month or $20 per year. Several people have purchased multiple memberships to be shared with people who cannot afford them, but who really want to create art.

They also plan on setting up an art supply store in the back of the studio space to help with funding.

A Port Alberni-based artist donated some artwork so the co-op can sell it and raise startup funds.

Lind is heartened by the community involvement so far. “This program isn’t going to work unless the community gets involved in it.”

Because the space will be a co-op, Lind is looking for donations of art supplies, carving tools, folding tables and chairs, a public address system and possibly a video camera for film or drama classes. The ultimate dream is to acquire a van to be able to transport co-op members off-site for different programs.

If the arts club and community gathering centre thrive, Lind has plans for more. He would like to create a list of “labour-ready” people who are living on the streets but capable of working. “There’s a lot of street people that are very healthy and looking for work,” says Lind.

For more information on the Bear Arts Club, contact Lind by phone at 250-730-0385, by e-mail at or visit the Facebook page (The Bear Arts Club) to see the list of equipment and supplies they are looking for.

Just Posted

Port Alberni riders compete in Pony Club championships in Courtenay

Two riders earn ribbons at regional competition

Port Alberni contractor earns safety award

Mosaic Forest Management honoured 10 Vancouver Island contractors

Courtenay-Alberni Greens name Sean Wood as federal candidate

Nomination meeting took place June 15 at Hupacasath Hall in Port Alberni

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District approves one cannabis store, denies another

Stores would have been located across the street from one another in Cherry Creek

UPDATED: Taylor Flats wildfire in the Alberni Valley under control

Fire is located close to Highway 4 near Sproat Lake

Protesters rally in Victoria over newly approved Trans Mountain pipeline

The Still No Consent! No Trans Mountain! 20 kilometre march will end at Island View Beach

Wildfire burning in coastal forest

A fire beside the Sea to Sky Highway is burning up a steep slope

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Being a pot dealer is not what it used to be

Sunday Big Read: the business of selling marijuana in B.C. is a slow bureaucratic slog

VIDEO: Two more pride flags have been stolen from Langley woman

Lisa Ebenal was “angry” and “fed up” after the latest theft. Then people started showing suppport

B.C. couple who has raised 58 children turns to community amid cancer diagnosis

Family who raised, fostered and adopted many kids hoping to gain some precious together time to fight cancer

Canucks acquire forward J.T. Miller from Lightning

J.T. Miller, 26, had 13 goals and 34 assists for the Lightning last season

Most Read