Up and coming Ontario arts facility projects

Many exciting building projects are on the horizon for Ontario’s arts and culture organizations. We can think of no better time than Canada Day to take a quick glance around the province and share what some of our arts organizations have in store for their creative spaces this year.

Place des Arts
Looking North to Sudbury, Regroupement des organismes culturels de Sudbury (ROCS) is now completing an independent feasibility study of Place des Arts – a future francophone cultural complex that will serve the Greater Sudbury arts community.

This fall, Phase III of the project will begin which entails a major two to three year fundraising campaign aiming to raise $30 million for the construction of the centre. ROCS’ Director of Development, Paulette Gangon, notes that “if the School of Architecture from Laurentian University, now being built, was the spark that ignited the vision of an urban lively revitalized downtown, the Place des Arts project has the potential to be the accelerator.” The construction of the centre is planned to take place over 2018-19.

Thunder Bay Art Gallery
Further north, we have the Thunder Bay Art Gallery that is looking to relocate to the waterfront. Faced with space limitations in their current 40 year old facility, building a gallery space on the shore of Lake Superior would improve the gallery’s visibility, which is currently tucked away on the campus of Confederation College.

They completed a Site Study and Economic Impact Assessment in 2012, followed by a Capital Fundraising Feasibility Study and business plan for the new facility in 2014. Now the Thunder Bay Art Gallery is ready to initiate the Architectural Design Phase of the project, which is anticipated to take 18 months.

Expected to open in 2019, the new gallery will be twice its current size at approximately 36,000 square feet. More space will enhance exhibition and public programming as well as expand educational and artist-in-residence programs.

McCrae House
More central in the province, Guelph’s McCrae House –birthplace of famous WWI poet John McCrae– completed their renovations this spring. “We thought this being the year of the centenary of writing of In Flanders Fields, it would be a good time to upgrade the exhibition and the visitor spaces in McCrae House to engage visitors in new ways in the story,” shares Tammy Adkin, Manager at Guelph Museums.

Two main renovations have been completed at McCrae House. The first is a floor to ceiling script of the poem which also includes an audio visual component. This project aims to give the poem greater play within the new exhibition and create a moving experience for visitors. The second change involves switching a former period room into a gallery for contemplation and reflection where the poem is explored locally and around the world. McCrae House has created many interesting programs surrounding the poem’s 100th year which you can check out here.

FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
Over in the golden horseshoe, St. Catherine’s is in the final legs of completing their New Performing Arts Centre. Opening in November, the new facility will be a 95,000 square foot academic and cultural centre comprised of four performance venues. Brock University’s fine and performing arts students can use two performance venues as a learning space, while local arts groups can access the centre for practice and performances. This June, they reached 50% of their fundraising goal since launching a capital campaign in April.


We’re always excited to hear about building projects happening within Ontario’s arts organizations. If you have a building project in the works, we would love to know about it! Contact Alex Glass, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, at alex@artsbuildontario.ca.