We do see this very much as an anchor and an entrance to a very public cultural district.
—Trudy Schroeder, executive director, WSO
Administrative staff of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra have finally seen the light of day. They have temporarily moved their offices from their cramped basement quarters at Centennial Concert Hall to the 16th floor of the Richardson Building.
It's part of a larger plan that will see them moving into newly designed quarters at Pantages Playhouse in the next three to four years. The WSO has been managing the heritage building for the past few years, working with a not-for-profit group called the Performing Arts Consortium that has an interest in the revitalization and transformation of the venue.
The new facility will feature a main floor bistro, a large rehearsal room that also has catering facilities and administrative offices. A recording studio is also part of the plan.
"For us as an organization to have that street-front visibility would be a really big and important thing," says Trudy Schroeder, executive director of the WSO.
The new facility will give them space for outreach programs and offer the opportunity to present other kinds of programming, such as chamber music, solo recitals and guest artists.
"In terms of opportunities for our musicians, it will just open a range of doors that are not there for us at the moment," says Schroeder. "We hope it will grow to the point where it becomes kind of like the community centre for the arts."
Design for the new Pantages Playhouse (Number 10 Architectural Group)
The main orchestral concerts will continue to be presented in the Concert Hall, as Pantages is too small for the full orchestra.
The 99-year old building will also remain available to the cultural community at large for rentals. "It's a highly used facility but is in need of refurbishment," says Schroeder.
The orchestra has to raise 18 million dollars for the project. Schroeder says she hopes to access a federal-provincial infrastructure program for two thirds of the cost and the orchestra with the Performing Arts Consortium will fundraise for the remaining six million. "Early indications are some funds have already been promised to us," she says.
Schroeder has a vision for the area. "We do see this very much as an anchor and an entrance to a very public cultural district. We do have so many cultural facilities in the area and there really is a need for building that up and for really creating a sense of presence within that cultural district." Schroeder hopes it will be an important and inviting part of a very vibrant area.