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THE SCOOP | Sudbury Is About To Get A New Performing Arts Centre

By Anya Wassenberg on March 31, 2019

Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury
Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury (Rendering: Moriyama Teshima Architects)

“We’ve spent 10 years working on this, but the community has been dreaming and hoping for this for 50 years.” Stéphane Gauthier, president of Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury, is quoted on Sudbury.com.

A sleek modern design was revealed to the public on Friday, March 29 for the Place des Arts Sudbury project that has been taking shape at the corner of  Elgin and Larch streets north of Medina Lane in the downtown area. Provincial Minister of Francophone Affairs Caroline Mulroney helped reveal the design together with MP Marc Serré and Mayor Brian Bigger at a public unveiling on March 29.

“This project has been a long time coming,” Gauthier is quoted in Sudbury.com. In fact, the Places des Arts organization has dealt with the death of its former director of development and other dramas along a long and sometimes difficult road to see the project through to shovels in the ground in late 2018 after a few inevitable delays.

The new arts space will be the realization of a long-held dream by the ROCS or Regroupement des organismes culturels de Sudbury, a coalition of seven professional francophone arts organizations from Greater Sudbury – the oldest of which, Carrefour francophone, has been in existence since 1960. The other members include Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario, Concerts La Nuit sur l’étang, Éditions Prise de parole, Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario, and the Salon du livre du Grand Sudbury.

According to the website, the space will be devoted to bold works and artistic collaborations in an environment that is tolerant, goal oriented, and respectful of the environment. But, much more than a simple arts venue, the stylish new arts complex is being called a “flagship building” for the burgeoning Nouvel-Ontario francophone cultural movement. Its creators hope it will become a focal point for francophone culture in the province.

Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury
Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury (Rendering: Moriyama Teshima Architects)

Organizers have been working on the design for about 10 years. The project was awarded to the consortium of Yallowega Bélanger Salach Architecture and Moriyama Teshima Architects, based in Toronto and Sudbury, responsible for a number of architectural projects with a cultural bent, including the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, and the Ismaili Centre in Toronto, among others. The 40,000-square-foot building will be four stories high, and was inspired by Northern Ontario’s industrial past and present. Along with glass, the exterior will be made with corten steel, a material that takes on a rust-like appearance over years of exposure to the weather.

“We really wanted a building that isn’t entirely new,” Gauthier said. “The glass is new, and it’s very inviting, but at the same time, the steel is very robust and indicative of the industrial past and present of Sudbury.”

Together with the ROCS and the francophone community, the city and province are looking to the new arts centre to jump-start redevelopment in the downtown area. The city committed to $5 million in land transfer funding, and the provincial government kicked in $3.5 million towards the project under the former Liberal government. Place des Arts organization founders Stéphane Gauthier and Martin Lajeunesse had to go knocking on a lot of doors to raise the additional $22 million or so required to get the project completed, including a private donor campaign, and funding from FedNor, a regional development organization, and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, a crown corporation and economic development agency.

Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury
Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury (Rendering: Moriyama Teshima Architects)

Along with the seven arts organizations of ROCS, the multi-functional structure will house an early childhood arts centre that can accommodate up to 15 children each day, a 120-seat studio, a 299 fixed-seat concert hall, a stylish bistro, contemporary art gallery, gift and book shop, offices, and meeting rooms. Services will be provided in French and English, with most performances in French. Current plans are to present about 850 cultural activities annually, and projections point to up to 50,000 additional visitors to Sudbury’s downtown core each year as a result of the Centre.

The project is budgeted at $30 million and will create about 180 jobs for the planned 24-month construction. The site has already been prepared, with Phase 2 of the construction set to begin at the end of spring 2019. The official opening is planned for the end of 2020.


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