Stegner Residence: A Home for Creativity
While Stegner House has inspired artists and writers since 1988, the Eastend Arts Council wanted to renew its vision and sustain interest in the property and residency experience going forward. Built in 1917, the Wallace Stegner property, nestled along the banks of the Frenchman River, provides a low-cost residency experience for artists and writers from around the world.
In 2019, the Eastend Arts Council moved forward on a plan for renewing and sustaining interest in Stegner House thanks to funding from SaskCulture's Community Cultural Engagement and Planning grant. Its plan included putting out a call for a research consultant to undertake a review of its present operation, research community interest and support, as well as to help identify new funding models and best practice guidelines and tools, while building capacity for Stegner House’s impact in Eastend.
“It became very clear through the course of our research that Wallace Stegner House has an important role to play as a place for writers, artists, environmentalists and progressive thinkers in the 21st century, as well as for the residents of Eastend and the people of Saskatchewan," says Dean Bauche, a consultant who led the renewal project for Stegner House that began in 2018.
The property, Wallace's childhood home, was purchased and renovated by the Eastend Arts Council in 1988. The Arts Council undertook the purchase and restoration with a vision to transform the home into a community-run residence for artists and writers to use as a peaceful retreat for the creation of new works; so that, like Wallace, a new generation of creators would find inspiration and wander in the vast prairie landscape.
In exchange for providing an afternoon or evening of community engagement during their stay at the home, Wallace Stegner House provides a low-cost residency experience for artists and writers from around the world. Since 1989, over 270 writers and artists have stayed in residence. Residency at Stegner House provides a unique opportunity for new and varied creative voices to come into Eastend and share their knowledge and skill with the community at large, making sure the home plays an integral role in the cultural community of Eastend. Given this unique opportunity to bring numerous creative voices to the community, it’s no wonder that Eastend’s rural community has had a role in keeping Stegner House as a vibrant part of its cultural community.
“This project was initiated at a time when there was no crisis or looming imperative and Wallace Stegner House and Eastend Arts Council are both healthy and in good stead," says Bauche. “Clearly, the greatest success was finding out the level of support that exists for Stegner House and the Arts Council, not only in our community but across Canada. Having said that, we surely do need the support of organizations such as SaskCulture to help create the capacity necessary for true renewal.”
The process identified key areas of growth and impact for Stegner House. Through a combination of outreach to the local community, former residency participants, and other community-run residency facilities, the Eastend Arts Council has put forward a plan for rejuvenation of Stegner House’s capacity to continue to be a cultural cornerstone in the community of Eastend for years to come.