PEI

Recent changes at Confederation Centre present chance to renovate, redesign lobby

The Showcase gift shop, located in the lobby of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, is scheduled temporarily close after September 2020 as part of renovations to the lobby space.

The Showcase gift shop is slated to be temporarily closed after the 2020 summer season

The Confederation Centre of the Arts opened in 1964 in downtown Charlottetown. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

The Showcase gift shop, located in the lobby of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, is scheduled to temporarily close after September 2020 as part of renovations to the lobby space.

The retail space originally opened in 1965, one year after the centre officially opened. Now, the centre is planning an overhaul of the whole lobby.

"I can definitely say this is not a change driven in any way on its revenue or its performance," said Steve Bellamy, CEO of the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

"It's been a wonderful addition to the centre and provides a great service, I think, to the public. It's really more that it is part of the bigger picture of how can we best use the lobby and our other spaces."

The Showcase will continue regular operations until the end of September 2020 before the retail space is closed temporarily for renovations. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

The closure doesn't mean the Confederation Centre will be out of the retail game altogether. 

Bellamy said the centre wants to have a gift shop, but it will be smaller.

Changes provided opportunity

The Confederation Centre has been dealing with a number of changes recently.

In December, Mavor's Restaurant closed and the plan is to move the downtown library from the centre, across the street to the Dominion Building later this year.

The stage door entrance located on Victoria Row is one of the spaces they are looking to renovate to make it more welcoming. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

Bellamy said those moves prompted a closer look at all of the centre's space. In a couple months, Bellamy said, the centre will be issuing a tender for the "redesign of our lobby here in the theatre as well as a general concept design of the library space and some other spaces."

One of the other plans for the redevelopment would be to make what is called the stage door entrance a more welcoming way into the building.

The last meals were served at Mavor's Restaurant on Dec. 21, 2019. This space will also be part of the renovations. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

Adjustment for Downtown

Dawn Alan, executive director of Downtown Charlottetown Inc., said the organization is "really glad to see the changes," that are happening at the centre.

"D.C.I. are supporters of all things heritage and celebrators of all things new," she said.

"New is good. Change is good and they are going to absolutely create another wow-feature in downtown Charlottetown. So we are excited about it."

The downtown public library will be moving from its current location at the Confederation Centre of the Arts to the Dominion Building across the street. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

There was some concern with the temporary closure of the gift shop because it features many P.E.I. crafts and artworks.

"It's a gorgeous retail outlet, a lot of our same vendors sell there. It's a beautiful store," said Ayelet Stewart, executive director of the P.E.I. Crafts Council.

"It is too bad because so many tourists and Islanders go to to watch shows at the Confed Centre and … so we have a great access to all these potential buyers by being in that location. So shutting it down means loss of income to a lot of crafters for sure."

The majority of the staff at The Showcase are volunteers. Neither volunteers nor paid staff will lose their jobs. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

Bellamy said they will use the space for a bar and concessions, box office and the addition of a new donor wall.

Work is expected to begin next winter with the new lobby expected to reopen in the spring of 2021.

The majority of the staff at The Showcase are volunteers. Neither volunteers nor paid staff will lose their jobs.

All of the plans and changes are contingent on securing funding.

More from CBC P.E.I. 

With files from Wayne Thibodeau

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