Lamphouse Legacy: Supporting Emerging Artists

Mari Rosehill
Mari Rosehill

A community that values arts and artists is one of engagement, uniqueness and reflection. A place that supports emerging artists fosters accessibility, affordability and social cohesion – among many benefits.

Canmore has long had a reputation for being ‘artsy’. Here, you’re as likely to cross paths with singer-songwriters or ceramicists as you are climbers, hikers and skiers. Canmore’s history of supporting and growing the arts goes back many decades.

Held at the Banff Canmore Foundation (BCF), the Lamphouse Endowment for the Arts supports performing and visual arts in the Bow Valley. It currently has two key programs. The first is the Lamphouse’s Emerging Artist Bursary is given annually to a Canmore resident who identifies as an emerging artist and plans to use the funds to further pursue their artistic practice.

“Funding provides emerging artists with an essential opportunity to delve deeper into their craft, to explore their creative practice and process," says the Town of Canmore’s Supervisor of Arts and Events Jeanie Macpherson. “Access to funding is a barrier to artists who have incredible potential and passion - and especially for early-stage career artists, young people, folks from equity deserving groups and those who experience systemic barriers to entry into the arts sector.”

The 2022 bursary winner is Mari Rosehill, a singer/songwriter whose work is deeply inspired by life in the Canadian Rockies. In 2022, she released her first LP “A Little Unhinged, A Little Bit Weird.” Bow Valley music fans may recognize her voice from appearances at artsPlace and the Canmore Folk Music Festival. The $3,000 Bursary will assist Rosehill with her goal of independently producing her upcoming album.

"When I received the call that I was the recipient of the 2022 Lamphouse Emerging Artist Bursary, I was holding back tears in disbelief. I feel so fortunate and thankful to the Town Of Canmore and everyone that helped this moment come to be. Pursuing my dream as a career, is now so much more tangible due to this incredibly generous honour.”

- Mari Rosehill

community support for artists

The pursuit of an artistic life is challenging but the value artists give to their community can be profound.

“The award also offers visibility and networking opportunities to emerging artists," Macpherson says. "Artists grow with community voice, support and care."

The Lamphouse Endowment fund has as legacy of impact. Macpherson says it offers a bright pathway to continue to support artist development, visibility, experience and generates lasting personal, professional and creative community impact.

The second program is the Lamphouse Emerging Artist Bursary: High School Student Category. The 2023 recipient is Canmore Collegiate High School student Liann Sigua who received an award of $500 that will help her develop her considerable talent for illustration.

Lamphouse Started as Bigger Project

The first iteration of the Lamphouse Society started in 2001 as the “C5 Society” (Canmore Centennial Community Cultural Centre).In 2004, the group of dedicated Canmore volunteers then formed the Lamphouse Society for the Arts with their eyes on a Centennial grant from the Government of Alberta. Its dream was a new arts centre in Canmore. The first location was to be by the central Bow River boat launch; later plans saw it relocated to Miner’s Union Hall and again to the parking lot behind the Bank of Montreal.

Meanwhile, the team got busy raising money and drawing up official plans, recalls former committee member and Canmore mayor John Borrowman.

The society dissolved in 2010 and put the funds in a new account under what was then the Bow Valley Community Fund, held at the Edmonton Community Foundation. That fund was aimed to support emerging artists and was a mainstay in the long-running Mayor’s Awards for the Arts. Meanwhile, a subsequent effort to launch artsPlace took off.

“Canmore’s been an artsy community for a long time, even well before the mines closed.  We had plans for a very large space – twice what artsPlace became. We started getting serious right when subprime mortgage collapse happened. It was bad timing, and that was unfortunate.”

- John Borrowman

The power of local endowment

In 2015, the Lamphouse Fund along with Rockies Ride for Kids Foundation Fund and Banff Alpine Racers Fund, were among the first to commit to the new Banff Canmore Foundation. This was a ‘pivotal year for BCF’, according to former BCF executive director Bill Fisher, which grew from serving Banff separately to uniting a community foundation for the entire valley.

“What was happening was a manifestation of Banff and Canmore coming together on things like regional transit, waste management, economic development and community building,” Fisher says.

Funds formerly held at ECF moved to the community itself and to BCF, where they continue to providing a lasting source of financial support. It was a show of solidarity and local community building.

And while it may not have become the arts and culture centre the originally team had envisioned, the Lamphouse Endowment for the Arts continues to have a lasting impact on our community. The Fund is administered, managed and stewarded by BCCF. By pooling funds with other community partners and donors, the Lamphouse Fund has a secure and permanent source of revenue. It has potential.


The Lamphouse is a great example of community legacy. The funds continue to provide support for artists, as was the original vision of the group. There remains lots of interesting possibilities for the Lamphouse to evolve.”

BCF Executive Director Laurie Edward

Local initiatives like this one prove that good ideas have potential, even if the initial plans change.

“The fact that Lamphouse is a local initiative, created by Canmore residents, shows the power of community,” Borrowman says. “We want to help the local arts community better understand the endowment and its potential.”

Community members are always invited to contribute to the Lamphouse Endowment For The Arts, and support performing and visual arts in the Bow Valley Region, defined as the area from the eastern border of Banff National Park to the western border of the Stoney First Nations Reserve.

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