Goal: To develop, through organic means, a mid-sized performance venue in Brantford/Brant that caters to the needs of community and independent artists looking for an affordable venue that hosts ~250 patrons.
Status: In Progress (Phase 2)
In recent years, artists in Brantford/Brant – particularly in the performing arts – have been seeking help from City and community organizations to support a long-term mid-sized performance venue. With the recent closure of the Brantford Arts Block due to funding cuts – arguably Brantford/Brant’s only mid-sized art space – artists have been struggling to exist and develop their business having to exist without affordable, purpose-built facilities.
Although there are other performance venues in Brantford/Brant that can cater to our artists, they come with a significant share of limitations: lack of consistent availability, small number of affordable options, lack of on-site support staff, priority often given to non-artists, lack of basic equipment for performances, to name a few.
Simply put, Brantford/Brant is in need of a performance space that can host ~250 patrons, that is affordable, and that meets the needs of community groups and independent artists.
It is a common question if there is need for physical venues in the current digital age. With access to online venues becoming increasingly easy and affordable, and the reality that a vast proportion of the population uses social media, pressure has been put on physical venues to adapt and/or reconsider their usefulness. There are many benefits that public space offers to a community and, in the context of Brantford/Brant, two are particularly important: the economic benefits of a thriving Arts sector and the social profit of a place that provides a sense of community, civic identity, and culture. Thriving arts spaces offer the community a means for collaboration and expression so that we may come together and imagine new possibilities for the future. It provides a means to belong, not just to exist, and can give us a sense of purpose and meaning through continuity and connection.
We are employing a phased approached to a co-existence model of art space administration in order to create an affordable and accessible venue for artists in Brantford/Brant that is self-sustaining and profitable. Co-existence encourages two or more arts groups (including fine art, heritage and culture) to sustain a working venue by pooling their resources and audiences to ensure maximum utilization and, thus, ongoing occupation.
Phase 1 – Bonding Relationships
In the first phase (early 2017), we started by creating and nurturing a relationship between two highly active theatre groups in Brantford/Brant (Ichthys Theatre and Stage 88) and a cultural hall with available space in a central location (Polish Alliance Banquet Centre) that began the process of fission and fusion amongst these groups. This relationship has been very fruitful, resulting in these groups signing on as co-partners for capital funding projects and doing cross-development of their programs. Furthermore, we played an integral part in negotiating rates and rental terms that are structured especially for artists and stagings.
Phase 2 – Purpose Building
We have now entered a second phase wherein we are tailoring the space to be purpose-built for both artists in Brantford/Brant and the members of this cultural centre. Our first task is to make the space accessible to persons with mobility needs by installing a new motorized accessibility lift, for which we have already secured 20% of the project cost (exp. late 2017). Upon completion, we will begin work on transforming the stage to be more conducive to technically complex stagings, such as reworking the lighting and sound system for better accessibility, installing newer equipment particularly professional quality stage lighting, and installing a skirt around the stage to increase capacity by 20% (exp. 2018).
Make Use of this Project
This venue is accepting bookings from artists.
Yang, Lisa. “Top Five Reasons Public Space Is Important.” culture365, Culture Days, 11 Sept. 2015, culturedays.ca/blog/2015/09/10/top-five-reasons-public-space-important/.