Volume 6 Week 27

Monday, Nov. 110


Updated Nov. 21

Updated July 12

Phil McNeely
Posted Feb. 12




(Posted 10 a.m., Nov. 11)
Future arts facility the centre of attention at FestivArts event
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Members of the Cross Town Youth chorus perform at this year's FestivArts event at Place d'Orléans last Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Construction doesn't begin until next spring, but the prospect of a new community arts facility serving the entire east end was on everybody's lips at this year's FestivArts celebration at Place d'Orléans last Saturday.

The $36.8 million Orléans Arts Centre will be built right next to the old Cumberland Town Hall on Centrum Blvd. Construction is likely to take about 18 months which means it won't be open until the fall of 2008.

The timeline is fine for east end artists who have been pushing for an arts centre in the east end for the past 20 years.

"It'll be worth the wait," says Gloucester Pottery School president Rosemary Swan. "When you talk about the fact that they're going to put a shovel in the ground next spring, it kind of gives you goosebumps."

The pottery school has been operating in rather cramped quarters in the basement of the Cyrville Community Centre for several years now and they have an ongoing waiting list for new members.

"We'll have a lot more space and we'll be able to expand our programs. It's also going to allow access for students with mobility issues," says Swan.

Besides being able to get information about the many arts programs being offered in the east end, visitors to this year's FestivArts were able to see drawings of the soon-to-be-built Arts Centre for the first time as well as a blueprint of the interior layout including the 500 seat performing arts theatre.

Arts Ottawa East representative Micheline Joanisse says the buzz around the display has been nothing but positive.

"People are really excited about it," says Joanisse. "The neat the thing is you get teenagers who come up and look at the drawings and get excited about it and you have senior citizens talking about it... It really shows that the centre will be used by the entire community and not just one segment of the community. It's for everybody."

One of the worries in the design process for the new arts centre was over whether too much emphasis would be place on the needs of the performing artists and not enough attention would be given to the unique requirements of visual artists, but Visual Arts Centre Orléans executive director Yvonne Wiegers says the visual arts community has been well looked after in the final design.

"A lot of people think that it's all about space, which it is important, but you also need a lot of other things to make it safe, like eye wash stations and special storage space for some of the materials," says Wiegers.

Besides a large art studio, the new art centre will also have a print-making studio which the east end has never had before.

The Visual Arts Centre is already deeply involved in the process of trying to figure out which programs to offer when they move into the new facility. Some of the decisions will be based on current demand and limited surveys and other decisions will have to wait until they've already moved and can get a better handle on how the new quarters will impact on demand and they're own ability to offer new and different courses.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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