Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Nanaimo Buys Building Downtown for Performing Arts Center

Eagle Mountain Church Building

Bought By City of Nanaimo

The City of Nanaimo and The Downtown Nanaimo Partnership are pleased to announce a new addition to the downtown core as a result of the acquisition of 25 Victoria Road which will be developed into a Community Performing Arts Centre.

Nanaimo is a growing community and creativity continues to be a sought after commodity by residents and visitors. The purchase of the facility supports Nanaimo’s cultural strategy to facilitate the growth of the downtown cultural district through the purchase of new or existing facilities that can be utilized for cultural purposes. Over the past ten years The City of Nanaimo has invested in a variety of buildings in the downtown core that support the development of the various arts and cultural mediums present in our community. The Port Theatre, The Nanaimo Museum and The Port of Nanaimo Centre have become anchors in the downtown core and assist in the development of arts and culture. The CIBC Centre for the Arts, now home to the Downtown Nanaimo Art Gallery, Vancouver Island Symphony, Crimson Coast Dance, Assembly of BC Arts Councils, TheatreBC and the Community Archives, was the first capital project of the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership in 2001. The new Community Performing Arts Centre will complement these existing facilities and provide a much needed affordable rehearsal and performance venue for community arts and cultural organizations.

The City of Nanaimo purchased 25 Victoria Road for $460,000. The Downtown Nanaimo Partnership will be contributing $100,000 towards the purchase and upgrade of the facility. The building is approximately 3,600 square feet and was originally built in 1892 as St. Albons Anglican Church. It is located in the Nob Hill area of the downtown core and fronts Nicol Street to the East and adjoins Victoria Road to the West. Over the years its primary use has been for assembly. Although the building is not on the heritage registry it is one of the older buildings in our community. Theatre BC, Centre for the Arts Nanaimo and a number of community arts and culture organizations worked with the City of Nanaimo and the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership in the efforts to purchase 25 Victoria Road.

According to Councillor Diane Brennan, who is also vice chair of the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership Society,

“The purchase of 25 Victoria Road and the development of the building into a Community Performing Arts Centre supports the ongoing revitalization efforts in the downtown core. It will provide a wonderful venue to showcase local arts and culture for both residents and visitors and a welcome addition to the downtown arts district. In addition, the venue will provide an additional entertainment option for visitors attending conferences in our community. ”

Larry McNabb, Chair Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee and Councillor was “…pleased to see the acquisition come to completion. The development of a Community Performing Arts Centre supports the City’s efforts to foster cultural development in the community and will allow local arts and culture organizations to showcase their talents. It is another positive addition to the downtown core and demonstrates the commitment The City of Nanaimo has in further developing arts and culture in the community. We look forward to working with community based arts and cultural organizations.”

George Hanson of the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership stated “An affordable small venue rehearsal and performing space has been on the Partnership’s list of cultural priorities for seven years. We’ve seen several local performing arts organizations struggling in recent months specifically because of the lack of such space.

The purchase of 25 Victoria Road is a significant addition to our blossoming downtown Arts District. It provides permanent affordable space for arts organizations; will act as an incubator for the cultural sector; and will bring a continual flow of artists and audiences along with positive neighbourhood and business spin-offs to the southern part of our Arts District. The Downtown Nanaimo Partnership has worked hard with The City of Nanaimo and various arts and culture organizations over the last several years leading to this outcome. This is an important step helping to ensure that the ‘arts’ will remain in the ‘Arts District’. We commend the City for seizing this opportunity for long-term value to our community.”

The building will undergo renovations which will include some structural maintenance, lighting, staging and audio. It is anticipated that the facility will be ready for limited use by early June and for full occupancy by September 2008.


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