In this 2 part webinar on Creative Space Project During COVID-19, the panelists shared their experiences and advice around capital projects in pandemic times, focusing on successes and challenges with project planning, timeline/adjustments, contingencies and risk management, funding, and overall recommendations for creative space project development.
The featured panelists were:
Janis Monture, Executive Director of Woodland Cultural Centre
Paul Fujimoto-Pihl, Project Manager at the Grand Theatre
Please note that the second portion of the webinar served as a mandatory check-in point for mentors and mentees of ABO’s Creative Spaces Mentoring Network (CSMN) 2021-22.
To View Part #1
Creative Space Projects During COVID-19 – Panel Portion:
Starting a career in the arts can be daunting and overwhelming. How do you get funding? How do you write a grant? How do you make your organization stand out? Arts service organizations (ASOs) can provide guidance and tools to help you succeed in the arts and culture sector.
ASOs are typically nonprofit groups that support artists and creative industry groups with a range of different tools and resources. There are different types of ASOs, and each can provide assistance based on your organizational needs. Some ASOs support a specific group such as performers or artists, while others can support disciplines such as theatre or music. Arts Service Organizations can provide:
funding or funding resources
professional development & networking
membership based models
So what kind of ASO are we? ArtsBuild Ontario is an ASO who focuses on supporting artists and their organizations in finding long-term space solutions for their creative practice. We encompass several different areas of support to arts organizations by providing programs, research, tools and resources. We have professional development opportunities, free and paid resources, as well as advocacy support for space needs. We support the development and management of creative spaces such as theatres, galleries, concert halls, museums and other creative spaces.
This is a mentoring program for leaders in Ontario’s arts and heritage sectors focused on strengthening business and management skills needed to successfully oversee, renew and develop creative spaces.
Make better decisions and produce accurate capital forecasts for your arts facility with Asset Planner for the Arts – a tool that tracks your facility’s condition and replacement costs for key building components.
Our learning series includes free and paid webinars that cover a range of topics such as accessibility, asset management, capital project support, energy efficiency, managing creative spaces and space rentals.
There are more ASOs who support Ontario’s arts sector!
While ArtsBuild Ontario targets building, managing, and financing needs for creative space, there are several other organizations across Ontario dedicated to different needs in the sector. Check them out!
ArtsBuild Ontario recently had the pleasure of visiting the newly built Tom Patterson Theatre. After completing the $70-million capital project, the Stratford Festival was forced by the pandemic to cancel its 2020 season and delay the grand opening of the new building. Fortunately for fans eager to see the award-winning facility, the Festival began welcoming the public for tours in the summer of 2021, ahead of the official opening now rescheduled for 2022.
The tour began with a land acknowledgment recognizing that the theatre is located on territory governed by two treaties. The first is the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant of 1701, made between the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an agreement to set violence aside and peacefully share and care for the land in the Great Lakes Basin. The second is the Huron Tract Treaty of 1827, an agreement made by eighteen Anishinaabek Chiefs and the Canada Company, an agency of the British Crown.
As we began our tour, we learned about Tom Patterson and his significance to the Festival and Town of Stratford. In 1952, Tom Patterson received a $125 grant from the City Council to bring a 6-week Shakespeare Festival to life. Almost 70 years later, the festival has evolved into a world-renowned destination for theatre experiences, welcoming half a million tourists each year (28 million since it opened) and driving the local economy.
The original Tom Patterson Theatre facilities were much different from the newly minted building we were standing in, which has just been awarded the international Architecture Masterprize. The theatre was previously housed in an adaptive reuse space, which included a community hall and a former curling rink. The old photos on display from the City’s archives of the former theatre spaces conveyed a rich history between the Festival and its community. The photos also illustrated how much the Festival has grown over six decades.
The Stratford Festival had leased the old Tom Patterson Theatre space from the City of Stratford since the 1970s but when the need for facility upgrades to the theatre became pressing, Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino and Executive Director Anita Gaffney spearheaded a project that envisioned an entirely new, architecturally important building for the Festival. The provincial and federal governments contributed $20 million each to support project and the Festival raised an additional $60 million from private donors. In 2018 it purchased the community centre site from the City for $4.9 million and work began.
A worldwide search for architects was held. Several core elements needed to be met in the winning proposal. These included: maintaining the original intimacy of the old theatre space and creating outdoor gardens that would enhance the site. The project was awarded to Siamak Hariri, of Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini Architects, who had a vision for the new theatre to be a “shimmering jewel” on the water and engage with the ebbs and flows of the Avon river, which runs alongside the building. Standing inside and outside the new theatre facility, it’s clear this vision has come to fruition.
In addition to its beauty, three features of the Tom Patterson Theatre project also caught our eye.
The new facility has three spaces available to rent.
Spriet Members’ Lounge: This beautifully furnished space, complete with an impressive marble bar and fireplace is used during performances, with member only access. Outside of Festival Performances, the Lounge is available for hosting special events.
Lazaridis Hall: Suitable for solo shows, cabarets, spoken word, panels, discussions and other small-scale events, with seating for up to 200, this space overlooks the beautiful Avon River through the glass and bronze curtain that surrounds the theatre.
Dinner Rooney Workshop: This space is used for the Festival’s educational programs and production needs, but is also available to rent. It is situated next to Lazaridis Hall and offers similar views.
State of the art lighting and audio
The Festival’s own staff informed the technical design of the auditorium, which seats 600. The new audio system is one of few in the world designed to immerse audiences. Details of the design include speakers along the outside of the base stage and throughout the auditorium, allowing sound to follow the actor’s movement and a hidden catwalk.
The design also includes a lighting system called RoboSpot. These are small lights that are controlled remotely, allowing greater creative opportunities and making the jobs of the lighting techs less arduous during productions.
They bought a forest!
After much research and experimentation, it was decided that Canadian birch was the ideal choice for building the stage floor. One-thousand square feet were required, but with a shortage of lumber during the pandemic, there was not enough Canadian birch to be found to complete the build, so…the Stratford Festival purchased their very own wood lot! Now for generations to come, actors who tread the boards at the Tom Patterson Theatre will do so on locally sourced, sustainable Canadian wood, not Russian birch.
Throughout the creation and development of the new Tom Patterson Theatre, the original spirit of the old building still remains. Whether you wish to see a performance or dine in their new cafe along the river, the new theatre facility does not disappoint.
Janis Kahentóktha Monture is Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River. Janis returned as the Executive Director of Woodland Cultural Centre, one of the largest First Nations- run cultural centres/museums in the country. Previously, Janis was appointed the Director of Tourism and Cultural Initiatives for the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation. Janis attended the University of Western Ontario where she attained a Bachelor of Arts in History and received a Museum Studies diploma from Algonquin College. Janis continues to volunteer in her community at Six Nations and in Brantford.
About the Woodland Cultural Centre’s Capital Project
Save the Evidence is a campaign to raise awareness and support for the restoration of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School, and to develop the building into an Interpreted Historic Site and Educational Resource. As a site of conscience, the final goal is to create a fully realized Interpretive Centre that will be the definitive destination for information about the history of Residential Schools in Canada, the experiences of Survivors of the schools, and the impact that the Residential School system has had in communities. After the Mohawk Institute closed in 1970, it reopened in 1972 as the Woodland Cultural Centre, a non-profit organization that serves to preserve and promote First Nations culture and heritage.
About the Speaker
Paul Fujimoto-Pihl is currently serving as Project Manager at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario. He has been with the Grand since 2012, and was previously Technical Director and Interim Production Manager. Prior to the Grand, he was Technical Director at Tarragon Theatre and The Blyth Festival. He has mentored five Apprentice Technical Directors while at the Grand, and is proud to be part of a ‘teaching theatre’. Paul sits on the Program Advisory Committee for Humber College’s Theatre Production Program, is Chair of the Ontario Section of the Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology, and is director of PMArts.
About the Grand Theatre’s Capital Project
The Grand Theatre is nearing completion of a $9.5 million renovation to its front- and back-of-house spaces. The work over the past year has completely transformed the interior of the theatre. The 2020-21 year allowed for the theatre to undertake significant renovations including more accessible bathrooms, upgraded lighting and sound systems, upgraded HVAC controls, refreshed artists spaces and more.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Amy Poole, Program Manager, at email@example.com or 519-880-3670 x 102.
The Initiative will provide 1-time project-based support to arts and heritage organizations to upgrade their space to safely reopen. The Initiative seeks to increase the number of cultural facilities able to re-open safely to the public.
In this information session, Regional Manager of Arts Programs Valerie Hopper and the Canada Cultural Spaces team will share further details on the Initiative, including project examples, eligibility, and timeline. Following the presentation, there will be time for Q&A with participants.
The presentation and Q&A will be offered in both English and French.