How your next trip to the Confed Centre will be different than before

Charlottetown's Confederation Centre of the Arts has reopened to the public but you'll notice some changes due to COVID-19.

Art gallery, gift shop and the Story of Confederation exhibit now open to the public

Confed Centre welcomes back the public after COVID-19 shutdown

3 years ago
Duration 1:52
How P.E.I.'s largest arts centre is adapting to pandemic precautions

Charlottetown's Confederation Centre of the Arts has reopened to the public, but visitors will notice some changes due to COVID-19. 

The Centre's gift shop is now open, as is the Story of Confederation exhibit, and the corridors are now partitioned to help direct traffic and help visitors maintain physical distancing.

The art gallery is also open, with a maximum of 15 people allowed in the space at a time, as per current Chief Public Health Office guidelines.

Hand sanitizer is available at the entrance and arrows have been placed on the floor to offer a route through the gallery that ensures visitors can appreciate the art that is on display without getting too close to one another. 

New signage at Charlottetown's Confederation Centre of the Arts aims to direct traffic and maximize physical distancing. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC )

"Really we want people to feel comfortable, and in a relaxed kind of mode when they're looking at art," said Kevin Rice, the gallery's director.

"It should be a pleasure, it shouldn't be something that they're fearful of — so just making sure the space is comfortable for people was really our objective."

Rice said staff looked at what other art galleries in Canada were doing to welcome visitors during COVID-19.

He said staff took other approaches into consideration and tailored a plan to fit the Confed Centre space. For example, designating traffic on each set of stairs to either go up or down, as the staircases aren't wide enough to allow adequate distance between visitors.

Kevin Rice, art gallery director, says modifications have been made to allow visitors to enjoy the art, while keeping a safe distance from others. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC )

He said after several months of being closed to the public, it's exciting to showcase both new and visiting exhibits — including Victor Cicansky's: The Gardener's Universe, which was supposed to wrap in April but has been extended until September due to COVID-19.

"We're just really excited to invite people to visit the gallery," said Rice. 

"My sense from talking with people in different situations is some people will not be comfortable coming out and into public space right now, and other people are just overdue. They can't wait to get back into public spaces and see people, even if it's with social distancing."

Doing things differently

Confederation Centre CEO Steve Bellamy said with a normal average of 1,000 to 2,000 visitors to the centre each day in the summer, this season will certainly be different. But he said it was important to reopen, even in a limited capacity.

"I think we've always been very confident that our divisions, such as visual arts in the gallery, and a certain amount of education, are things that we would be able to find a way to do under the circumstances," said Bellamy. 

"But it's really been the uncertainty around the performing arts that's been, and continues to be, the biggest challenge because that does take an enormous amount of planning and rehearsal. And in our case it involves employees, artists and participants from across the country. So being able to schedule those things to operate in the way we're used to has definitely been a challenge." 

Arrows on the floor of Charlottetown's Confederation Centre of the Arts aim to direct visitors and support physical distancing. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC )

He said plans are in the works to host some live performances outdoors, to a limited number of ticket spectators. And some summer camps will go ahead, but in smaller groups.

He said as much as COVID-19 has posed challenges to the centre, and how it operates, the past few months have offered new opportunities to embrace technology and plan for the future. 

"We want to get back to better, not get back to normal," said Bellamy. "So we're really looking at using some of this time that has been found to re-plan what we look like, re-plan who we are and how we operate and make some of those improvements that in some cases are overdue and, in others, are just exciting areas that we can dive into." 

The Confederation Centre Public Library is also reopened to the public this week at a limited capacity and with restrictions in place

More P.E.I. news

With files from Danny Arsenault


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