Kitchener-Waterloo

Arts and tech to share 44 Gaukel Street space

Lindsay Gold initially thought she would be speaking to members of the local arts community about the need for performance space. She was wrong.

Downtown Kitchener location will include more rehearsal space for performing arts groups

Performance artists in Kitchener and Waterloo desperate for rehearsal space are hoping to have a new resource in the near future.

Next week, Kitchener city council will vote on whether to approve a plan to use the second floor of 44 Gaukel Street – formerly Everest College – as a combined tech and arts space.

Lindsay Gold, the executive director of Arts Build Ontario, said the local arts community expressed a need for rehearsal space when her organization was reviewing what was available.

"I heard anecdotes from people where they were rehearsing in the foyer of a massage parlour because there wasn't other spaces," Gold said.

"I know they're rehearsing in board rooms. They're rehearsing at the university when they can get free space, but it's classrooms. So they're moving an entire classroom of desks and chairs at the beginning and having to move it [back]."

50-50 split

The space has been vacant since February 2015 when Everest College went bankrupt. Brian Bennett, Kitchener's manager of business development, said the process took longer than they anticipated, but they used that time to evaluate the space and determine how it could be used.

The downtown Kitchener location has 10,000 square feet of space. Staff has decided 50 per cent of the space will be used by the Accelerator Centre and 50 per cent by members of the arts and culture community in the city.

I heard anecdotes from people where they were rehearsing in the foyer of a massage parlour because there wasn't other spaces.- Lindsay Gold, Arts Build Ontario

Arts Build Ontario's job is to support organizations better manage their arts facilities. They will also determine the cost to the arts community.

"Most arts organizations that exist that are in their own facilities, a lot of them don't have their own facilities managers, those that have been trained in building management," Gold said." Sometimes we have curators managing the gallery so in the event the roof starts leaking or the boiler breaks, it's up to the curator to make the decision with the board of directors on what to do, and they make arrangements to get buildings fixed."

Kitchener city council will vote on the space at its May 16 meeting. The use of the space has already received approval via a council committee.

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