ARCADIA, YARMOUTH COUNTY - People streamed through the doors at an open house held by the Yarmouth Arts Regional Council (Th’YARC) at the former Arcadia school on July 18.
Close to 350 toured the building, which the YARC plans on renovating to become its new location, and at least 30 signed up as new members to the organization.
President Mitch Bonnar was beaming from ear to ear.
“I’m very pleased with the turnout,” he said.
“I’ve arranged six tours already with about 25 to 30 people in each. We did the first three tours in the first 10 minutes. It’s been fantastic.”
The former school was constructed in 1958 and expanded in 1964. It closed to students in June 2016. Purchase of the 15-acre property by the Th’YARC, from the Municipality of Yarmouth, is being finalized.
Suggestions were welcome from the public and brochures and copies of a conceptual drawing were available to visitors.
David Olie, a YARC board member, was one of the tour guides.
Th’YARC’s intention is to see two theatre spaces built at the former school. The rest of the building – the interior and exterior – would see some updating. A rough estimate of the cost is $8 million.
Olie described the many attributes of the property, including a kitchen.
“Th’YARC has never been a place for wedding receptions, dinner theatre, and we’ve never been able to put on full hospitality for an event because we haven’t had a kitchen.”
He added that cooking facilities would enable hot items in the concession lineup, as long as there were volunteers to do the cooking.
One room will be dedicated to the history and heritage of Arcadia, with a photo archive already underway.
That there is a washroom in many of the rooms makes them ideal for working with the arts, says Olie.
“You’re going to want to wash up afterwards. Potters have to have access to water, for example,” he said.
Wide hallways and an existing elevator help to make the building accessible.
Flexible spaces for users, depending on needs, was mentioned, as well as the fact that there is room for all of the arts.
“Our existing building has been too small. We have never been in a position to offer that (space) before. Now we are,” said Olie.
The possibility of dedicating part of the building to a hostel was also discussed.
“I think the more accommodations we can offer to our visitors, the more visitors we’re going to get,” said Olie.
He added that in the past it has sometimes been a problem for Th’YARC to find affordable accommodations for large groups of performers.
“If we can offer cheap accommodations on site for groups that are starting out or travelling internationally, then it’s going to increase our flexibility as far as bringing in those kinds of groups affordably.”
Meanwhile, the Town of Yarmouth is moving forward with a $25-million arts centre project on Collins Street. It has held many public consultation sessions concerning various aspects of the project: concept, design, governance and more.
If both parties continue to move forward with their projects, all levels of government, businesses and the community will eventually be asked to assist with funding two multimillion-dollar arts and culture centres within six kilometres of each other.