A Valentine’s Day gift to Toronto

Not all of us who attended Creative Trust’s Facilities Roundtable  in August wore hard hats and steel toed boots – but we sure could have. The site of our meeting, Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie’s  space at 304 Parliament Street, was a construction project very much in process. We carefully picked our way through roughly sketched in door frames and tried to picture what the place would look like with walls, much less theatre seats. We were all, I think, highly impressed and a little alarmed by the exciting chaos of a massive renovation project. And we were very appreciative of the open and detailed advice offered by Laurence Lemieux and her construction manager on the do’s and don’ts of arts facility renovations.

We are therefore delighted to see that the Citadel, a former Salvation Army building directly across from the wonderful new construction at Regent Park, is celebrating its grand opening on February 14th with an open house from 5:00 to 6:00pm. I, for one, wouldn’t miss it for the world.

The $1.8 million renovation started with a more modest budget three years ago when we first put forward a request to the City of Toronto to support a joint proposal for federal and provincial infrastructure funds for seven arts facilities. With billions of dollars on the table, we believed that this was a unique opportunity for governments to work together to create jobs while renewing our City’s social and arts infrastructure.

We described ourselves as ‘shovel-ready’ – perhaps an exaggeration, given the complexity of such projects – but accurately said that our list was made up of essential projects addressing years of unmet need. They were community-based with a strong focus on youth, would support excellence in the performing arts and neighbourhood economic development, and contribute to the companies’ long-term organizational sustainability by making it possible to attract new audiences.

Although the City declined to support our request in full, they did back the Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre and that wonderful Artscape project will be providing a new home to COBA, Native Earth Performing Arts and many other cultural organizations in the near future. Others in the group, such as the Theatre Centre, Toronto Dance Theatre/STDT, Factory Theatre, Young People’s Theatre, Tarragon Theatre and Tafelmusik are finding other more measured ways to reach their goals.

After years of collaborating and sharing, any project’s completion is really a triumph for all. Much applause and congratulations to Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie and the new Citadel!

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie is launching their new centre for contemporary dance with the world premiere of Les Cheminements de l’Influence (Pathways of Influence) choreographed and performed by Laurence Lemieux with music by Gordon Monahan.

Performance Dates: February 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25 at 8pm. 304 Parliament Street, just south of Dundas.

Tickets: $25 (HST included), , or at the door with cash, debit cards or credit cards.

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