The Theatre Centre’s real achievement

by Jini Stolk

The opening of the Theatre Centre’s wonderful arts hub and performance space in the former Carnegie Library was…I hardly know what to say. It was moving, exciting, joyful, and all the sweeter because they had beaten the odds to get there.

Any of us would quail, just a bit, at the prospect of raising $6.2 million while planning and overseeing the restoration of an iconic heritage building in the centre of Toronto’s most happening arts scene. And yet, with a small team and limited resources (Franco reminded us that the Theatre Centre’s annual budget has never been larger than “mid-sized”) they came in on budget and very close to on time. How?

Clues abounded at the opening event.

  • Every person in the room seemed to feel deeply involved, personally committed and individually proud of the project’s success. Franco, Roxanne, their wonderful board and team had reached out into the community – not just the arts community – drawing people firmly into their whirlwind of vision, courage, and energy.
  • Politicians and funders talked about the Theatre Centre not just as an arts venue but as a cornerstone of the developing West Queen West community.
  • Councillor Ana Bailao thanked them for animating the neighbourhood, adding excitement, culture, and a place of gathering.
  • Minister Glen Murray talked about the project as bringing together new and longtime residents from a diversity of cultures; he also thanked them for creating “a place where we get to know each other.”
  • Several speakers, including the construction team and trades, were grateful to the Theatre Centre for allowing them to help reopen a beautiful historic building for public use.

These achievements – of new supporters who’ve experienced the joy of contributing something important to their community, of a compelling vision clearly communicated and carried out with efficiency and integrity, of public recognition of cultural facilities as community-builders and community assets – will continue to pay dividends over time, not just for the Theatre Centre but for all of us.

(And for the record it was the wonderful Jenny Ginder, not me alas, who was essential in securing the Province’s support…!)

For those of you planning a new capital project, or working to make sure your current space is in a “state of good repair”, the Call for Submissions for the City’s invaluable Culture Build Investment Program is now out, with a deadline of April 14, 2014. Applications and information about the Program are available by contacting Lori Martin at 416-392-5225


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