Former convent turning into arts, culture hub in downtown Sydney
New Dawn Enterprises says the $15M project should be open to the public in a couple of months
A new arts and culture hub is set to open this spring in a renovated 130-year-old former convent in downtown Sydney, N.S.
New Dawn Enterprises, a local non-profit social development agency, bought the former Holy Angels convent in 2013 and is putting in more than 20 art studios and workspaces it will rent to artists and art groups.
The building, which will be called The Convent, will include a public gallery and café and has received about $10 million in government funding, including a $1.4-million grant announced on Friday by Invest Nova Scotia.
John Gainer, a New Dawn board member, said the transformation has been incredible.
"The fourth floor where the sisters lived was essentially a rabbit warren of simple bedrooms," he said. "Now, it's an open space, open to the light and open to shared studio spaces that will allow for a collaborative, creative energy.
"The architects and the designers have created an incredibly beautiful piece of architecture. With that, it still remains an empty building. The Invest Nova Scotia contribution of $1.4 million allows New Dawn to move the project along and essentially put the strings on a Stradivarius."
Gainer said the latest grant will pay for furnishings, signage and consultation with local First Nations representatives on ways to add Indigenous components to the arts and culture hub.
"It will provide a range of things that make the space liveable and allow the artistic and creative energies that are intended here to get an early start," he said.
Tenants will begin moving in next week
Erika Shea, New Dawn's vice-president of development, said tenants will start moving in on Monday, but it will take a couple of months for the spaces to fill and for tenants to settle in.
Shea said The Convent will be open to the public after that.
"The building has been designed to be a very large community art gallery, so come the spring, we really want anyone who's curious ... to come and wander around the building and to take in the sights and the sounds of the artists and to meet the arts organizations," she said.
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