Art Centre moving forward

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Art Centre moving forward
The outside of 159 Pitt St. formerly the Bank of Montreal. (Photo : Nick Seebruch/Seaway News)

CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall City Council heard about the next steps coming in the development of Cornwall’s Art Centre at their meeting on Monday, June 24.

The City of Cornwall bought the former Bank of Montreal building located at 159 Pitt St. in 2018 for $450,000. City of Cornwall administration estimated that the building would cost an additional $4 to $6 million in renovations.

READ MORE: Renovations to old BMO could cost $4-6 million

The presentation to Council explained what some of those renovations entailed with a a particular focus on installing a black box threatre in the building.

“A black box theatre is versatile,” explained Division Manager for Parks and Recreation Jamie Fawthrop. “The space can be used for just about any purpose. It is more of a casual theatre experience, a little more intimate. Those we met on this tour said that these were growing in popularity, especially among the younger crowd. These are the theatres they prefer going to.”

The black box theatre in the new arts centre is estimated to hold between 150 to 200 seats when completed.

The next steps for the City involves putting out a Request for Proposal for an architectural team and engineering team to come up with interior designs for the building and further consult with the public.

” It is our plan to have another round of public consultation,” said Fawthrop. “We’ve gone to the community to find out what the needs are, now it is more to work out the details. It is like Lego pieces, how are we going to fit them together with the space that we got.”

Councillor Carilyne Hébert said she looked forward to seeing proposed designs for the building and reminded Council that the building was still being currently used by the City such as for the monthly Art Walks, which are held the last Friday of every month during the summer.

“Glad it is still getting good usage now,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to what the design will look like, because there is a real opportunity to do something wonderful with this historic building.”

Councillor Todd Bennett said that he hoped to see a 3D model of any proposed future design of the Art Centre.

Another feature that Councillor Elaine MacDonald hoped would be included in future designs of the Art Centre is the old bank vault.

“The vault. That is another challenge we are going to try to put to our architects. The door would be excellent to incorporate someway, somehow. The location is not ideal,” said Fawthrop. Likely, the vault will likely have to be demolished, but my hope is that the door can be accommodated in someway.”

Fawthrop did acknowledge that parking on site would be a challenge, with the possibility of only three or four accessible parking spots on site, with the rest of the parking expected to be accommodated by the City owned parking lot, located nearby behind St. John’s Presbyterian Church.

Councillors also raised the possibility of using the old Capitol Theatre’s box office as the ticket office for the arts centre, but none, save for Councillor Claude McIntosh, said they knew where the old box office has been stored.

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