'Le Crac' fills demand for performance space in Sudbury

Sudbury musicians and visual artists are tapping into an over-grown and under-used space.

'Le Crac' a new performance venue where musicians and artists can display their work for free

An inside peek of Le Crac (Hilary Duff/CBC)

Sudbury musicians and visual artists are tapping into an over-grown and under-used space.

Called ‘Le Crac’, the venue will officially open in the city’s downtown in July. It can be found in a narrow alleyway on Durham Street, between Reg Wilkinson Men’s Wear and the YMCA . A tangle of vines has snaked across Le Crac’s gated fence, and the space is barely visible from the sidewalk.

Justine Giles and Mercedes Cueto are the Sudbury artists behind Le Crac's revival. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

"When people come in here there’s just going to be that feeling, that feeling of home, fun and creativity," said Justine Giles, one of the organizers of Le Crac’s revitalization.

"I could tell that it has the potential to be such a great community space once again."

Giles, also a local singer-songwriter, said Le Crac will provide a venue for musicians like her to perform in a unique and outdoor space. While she has been playing in Sudbury bars for a number of years, Giles added she sees Le Crac filling the need for an intimate and continuous art venue in the city.

The current plan is to hold a weekly concert at Le Crac.

"There’s Summerfest, there’s Northern Lights Festival, but I don’t think there’s really too many events that happen on a regular basis," Giles said. "So this is something that’s going to be happening … throughout the summer and probably into the fall."

Le Crac will also be an opportunity for smaller acts to perform.

"You don’t have to have tons of performing experience," she said. "This is an open space to sort of get the feel out there of the downtown crowd."

'Le Crac' reborn

Art events have been held at Le Crac in previous years, but the space has become over-grown and under-used in recent years.

One of the past organizers is Dineen Worth, who, like Giles, is an artist who rents studio space out of the Wilkinson building on Durham Street. Le Crac began as a collaboration with La Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario (La GNO) a few years ago, and a Canada Arts Council grant went towards the construction of a stage.

"People just congregate here because of the comradeship of artists," Worth said. "If we all work together as a group of artists, [Le Crac] will stay. I know from the past that it is well received and needed."

The entrance to Le Crac is sandwiched between Reg Wilkinson Men's Wear and the YMCA. (Google Maps)

Le Crac is located on private property owned by downtown businessman Bob Wilkinson.

"He thinks it’s great that we use it for the arts, we just have to respect that it is his property," said Worth.

Giles and Worth are hoping to finish the regreening and transformation of Le Crac before it hosts its first art event on Friday, July 26.

The final vision includes additional seating, a cover for the performance stage, and twinkling strings of lights for nighttime events.

"[The response] so far has been absolutely amazing," Giles said. I can tell that the community is already wanting to be involved and get on stage and showcase their art."

Artists who wish to perform or display their work should email lecracsudbury@gmail.com