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Open study session held for Yarmouth’s proposed arts and culture centre

Close to 50 participants share ideas in round-table discussions

YARMOUTH - The first of three concept design and feasibility study sessions for a proposed arts and culture centre in downtown Yarmouth was held on Jan. 31.

Representatives from the architecture company hired by the town, MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited, planned the session, which close to 50 attended.

Facilitator Talbot Sweetapple told participants the success of any project is always directly related to the engagement of the users.

“No idea is a bad idea tonight,” he added.

He shared a story about a similar study session for the new Truro library. A nine-year-old participant suggested a skating rink in front of the facility. The idea was put into action and the outdoor rink was recently voted the people’s choice winner for public space in the Great Places in Canada competition.

Sweetapple presented three questions to participants for round-table discussions and the group quickly got down to business, writing ideas on large sheets of paper at each table. The questions were:

What public entities would improve quality of life in Yarmouth?

What is the role of visual arts in the facility?

What are some of the cultural values in Yarmouth you want to see in the new arts and culture centre?

Some of the suggestions included incorporating: fishing and marine sectors into the overall design, a widow’s walk glass dome, all cultures from the region represented, being all inclusive and accessible, multi-use art spaces (checker and chess boards), green space for yoga, sculpture gardens, outdoor theatre space, kid-friendly, pre-theatre suppers, drinking fountains, public washrooms, a public forge, fibre studio and much more.

The town has chosen the Collins Street parking lot as the site for the future centre.

Phase 1 of the project, currently underway, focuses on feasibility modelling, Phase 2 is dedicated to fundraising, Phase 3 handles detailed design and tendering and Phase 4 is focused on construction.

The town would be looking at municipal, provincial and federal funding, as well as sponsorship, to build the facility.

Theatre consultants will join a future session and programming discussions are also on a future agenda.

Once the design work is done, approximate costs and sources of revenue will be discussed.

Potential users of the facility are encouraged to become involved as the project proceeds. The town has developed a new website where opinions and ideas are welcome.

The second and third design and feasibility study sessions are scheduled for Feb. 21 and March 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rodd Grand Hotel.


MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited hired by town to work on following:

First phase, $25,000 - involved assessing three downtown locations.

Second phase, $40,000 - refining vision for the project and analyzing input from stakeholder meetings.

December 2017, $136,000 - complete design and feasibility study phase.

Site for proposed complex remains topic of contention, especially parking issue. Underground parking has been proposed in past. The town is acquiring more land nearby for parking lots.

 Th’YARC wanted the new arts and culture centre on Parade Street instead of downtown. In December, the organization purchased the former Arcadia elementary school from the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth for its own new theatre and arts centre.

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