New digital arts hub gets OK from Kitchener councillors

Kitchener city councillors have approved the use of a municipally-owned building for the development of a new digital arts hub.

Project organized by UW, Laurier and Conestoga College

Kitchener councillors voted to spend $200,000 on upgrades to a city-owned Gaukel Street building and to lease some of the space to the three academic institutions leading the Kitchener Studio Project. (Brian St. Denis/CBC)

Kitchener is one step closer to developing a new digital arts hub in the downtown core.

This afternoon, city councillors unanimously approved the use of space at 44 Gaukel Street for what is known as the Kitchener Studio Project.

The new hub is a partnership between Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. The aim is to create a new work and research space for digital media which will house designers, artists, technology professionals and students.

The city will spend $200,000 on upgrades to the building and lease the space to the three academic institutions for a nominal fee. Christie Digital, Communitech and Electronic Arts are also involved in the project.

Mark Derro, the dean of Conestoga’s school of media and design, says having such a diverse set of people under one roof will foster great creative potential in the area.

"Virtually every different project pulls in a different type of skill set," said Derro. "It’s almost like self-organizing systems where you take the best from different disciplines and then meld them together for one specific type of application."

The project is being treated as a pilot project and will be re-examined again in five years.