Art community pledges to raise $1M for Arts Centre

Nick Seebruch
Art community pledges to raise $1M for Arts Centre
Cornwall's future arts centre was opened to the arts community on Thursday afternoon July 26

CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall’s art community was out in force at the Cornwall City Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in support of a new Arts Centre.

Dozens of men and women, all connected to the art community gathered at City Hall to show their support for the Art Centre project.

There were carollers in the hall singing Christmas carols and singer Danielle Vallaincourt was invited to sing the national anthem.

In May 2018, the City of Cornwall purchased the old Bank of Montreal building at 159 Pitt St. with the intention of making it the new Arts Centre, however, in order to adequately renovate the building and remodel it into an arts centre would cost between $4 million and $6 million.

Katie Burke of the Collective for an Arts Centre presented to Cornwall City Council their planned fundraising campaign to support the project.

According to Burke, the Collective includes 50 people. During the summer, they conducted surveys during the Art Walks that were held once a month.

“Our surveys over the summer through the arts walk indicated there was a strong community support for an arts and culture centre,” said Burke. “And it indicated to us overwhelmingly that we do it right the first time.”

Burke pointed out the potential to increase tourism, raise the quality of life and generate business in Cornwall’s downtown. Additionally, Burke said that the projects slogan “Be the Link” was inspired by the City’s longstanding goal of building a university campus in Cornwall.

“The University report showed that there is a missing link in bringing in a university campus, and arts and culture centre,” she said.

Burke explained that fundraising efforts were well underway.

“In little under a month we have received an estimated $70,000 in donations and pledges, and there is another $70,000 and a little bit more in consideration from organizations and members of the community,” she said. “We wanted to say in this meeting that we had a hundred thousand dollars, and I think we can.”

In all, the group aims to raise $1 million for the new arts centre and hope to raise that money by July 1, 2019. The group picked the $1 million figure based on previous community fundraising efforts for projects like the Cornwall Aquatic Centre and the Benson Centre.

“Our purpose this evening is to show you that the arts community is viable and alive and actively seeking a focus point for its activities and ask for your recognition and endorsement of our endeavors as the community fundraising body for the City of Cornwall Arts Centre,” Burke said.

The City has setup a fund where all money being collected for the arts centre will be stored and the money gathered by the Collective will go into that fund.

Councillor Glen Grant said that the show of force that the arts community displayed to Council inspired confidence.

“Before we saw a scattered group, and now we see a unified group and that is the difference,” he said.

Councillor Carilyne Hébert pointed out that the current price tag of up to $6 million for the arts centre is half of the plan that the City had adopted in 2016. In October 2016, Council heard a recommendation from +VG Architects and Sierra Planning Management that the Civic Complex be remodeled into a new arts centre, at a cost of $12 million.

Council voted unanimously to recognize and endorse the Collective for an Arts Centre as the community fundraising body for the arts centre.

A public campaign kickoff event will be held in January.

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