Behind The Business with Birgitta MacLeod & Bonnie Thomson
Birgitta MacLeod and Bonnie Thomson have been featuring art from Ontario artists and artisans at META4 Contemporary Craft Gallery for 17 years. They have created a welcoming gallery in the heart of Downtown Port Perry for visitors and the community.
A Need for Art
META4 Contemporary Craft Gallery opened its doors in July 2005 with four sets of hands at the helm – Birgitta MacLeod, Bonnie Thomson, Jennifer Hardie, and Carey Nicholson. Birgitta and Bonnie are still running the business that was formed from the simple idea to create a space devoted to art in an area that would appreciate the unique, original, and exceptional.
Birgitta and Bonnie regularly welcome new artists from all over Ontario to show and sell their work in META4. This keeps the space fresh and every visit a memorable experience. META4 is also a space for creativity to foster offering workshops and classes in a wide variety of art styles.
The 100-Mile Art Diet
Birgitta and Bonnie joke that META4 is the 100-mile ‘art’ diet, because you can find artwork from exclusively Ontario artists throughout the gallery. Because of this practice META4 has helped many local artists build up recognition in the area.
It’s not just about selling art. It’s about educating customers about each piece and its value beyond the price tag. It’s about the experience of finding that new favorite piece that can be displayed and enjoyed for years. Each one tells a story and can carry a meaningful message for different people.
Friendships & Community
Although they only knew each other a little when they started META4, after nearly two decades in business they have an amazing friendship and partnership. The pair believe in always speaking the truth with each other and most importantly, having a partnership agreement on paper.
For Birgitta and Bonnie, one of the most satisfying parts of running their business is to see friendships grow. Often customers, classmates, and even instructors become friends as they continue to come back to shop and take classes. Operating in a supportive community is another incredible aspect to running their business and has benefited META4 greatly. The advantages of Downtown Port Perry are endless from the waterfront to the diverse mix of businesses.
A challenge with their particular business is that artists will eventually retire while the demand for their work still exists. This has forced Birgitta and Bonnie to seek out new artists on a regular basis. The ladies like to take road trips to discover and scope out new artists.
The art world has also faced stock issues and material shortages, which has made it hard for some artists to complete pieces. Both Birgitta and Bonnie agree that finding a balance between the business and their own art projects can be a struggle, but it’s minor compared to the joy of running their business.
Life & Art
Like life, everything in art is constantly changing. More recently there has been a major shift to digital art where mistakes can easily be undone, and elements copied and pasted. Fortunately, many artists are using software for conceptualizing and then transferring their work to a traditional base or medium, which has allowed long-established art styles to continue to thrive.
Change is an essential aspect of any business. It keeps Birgitta and Bonnie in the forefront and drives them to keep up with the needs of the art world. This change led them to diversify their business and begin selling high-quality art supplies alongside the large collection of original art and a wide range of classes.
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