New Brunswick

New $40M centre recommended to replace Fredericton's Playhouse

A new $40-million performing arts centre is being recommended to replace the existing Playhouse in Fredericton.

Fredericton's performing arts centre facing end of life and consultants recommend new venue

A new $40-million performing arts centre is being recommended to replace the existing Playhouse in Fredericton.

The "preferred option" coming out of the two-year study is a new building with two major performance venues.

The main hall would have 850 seats and a second venue would be a 300-seat flexible performance space. The two venues would share lobbies, ammeneties and backstage functions.

The Playhouse in downtown Fredericton is facing the end of its life and the City of Fredericton says its replacement is its top infrastructure priority. (mynewbrunswick.ca)
"What we now know is that the next version of the Playhouse should be dramatically different from the one we currently have," said Wayne Burley, the president of the board of the Playhouse.

"The big shift in thinking is that we would not simply replace the Playhouse, but would build a new multi-venue centre that can provide a wider variety of uses."

The study was commissioned by the City of Fredericton and Fredericton Playhouse Inc., which is the non-profit organization that manages the existing 709-seat venue. The study's findings were released Thursday.

The Playhouse opened in the 1960s and the study was "to respond to the end-of-life reality that the exiting Playhouse faces and looks to find a feasible way to replace it.

The consultants deemed it unfeasible to reuse the existing Playhouse.

"A multi-million dollar renovation would not only come short of meeting the needs and goals of the region, but would substantially reduce the Playhouse's capacity by the time current building codes for life safety and accessibility are met," states a news release announcing the study's findings.

The recommended new facility would take up 6,665 sq. metres, or 71,741 sq. feet.

Replacing the Playhouse has been identified as the City of Fredericton's top priority for new infrastructure.

The news release states other levels of government and the private sector would need to invest in the project for it to become a reality by 2017. A major public fund-raising campaign is also recommended.

"This report gives us direction on a very complex, yet exciting future project for our region," said Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside.

"Now it's time to engage other partners to move it forward. This is a project that has the potential to make a real statement about our community's position as a creative, dynamic place to live and do business."

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