A group of volunteers advocating for an arts centre in Collingwood is glad to see the town moving forward with a feasibility study for such a facility.
The Town of Collingwood issued a request for proposal in search of a consultant to look into the feasibility of developing an arts and culture centre in town. Bids were to be submitted by Nov. 9.
The feasibility study was part of the town’s 2020 budget process and was approved by council at that time. The town has allocated $50,000 for the study and is currently in the midst of the bid evaluation process.
For the Collingwood Arts Culture Entertainment (CACE) group, the feasibility study is a leap toward their goal for a local centre.
Rob Hart, chairperson for CACE, said he’s noticed an arts centre sized hole in the community since he moved her in 2017. He was recruited to the advocacy group, and said he has been talking to the mayor and town staff about the idea ever since.
“I hope we get significant input as the process develops and the results of the feasibility study come out,” he said.
Hart and the group want to see a “world-class, adaptable, multi-functional arts, culture, and entertainment centre.”
As they eagerly await the results of a feasibility study to better determine what size centre will work for the area, Hart said they're hoping to see a “focal point of a theatre somewhere in the range of 600 seats.”
“It would be an attraction and a destination point for folks of Southern Georgian Bay,” said Hart. “When we look at who this would appeal to, we’re looking at the whole region.”
Hart noted Wasaga Beach is getting a casino and on the other side of Collingwood is Blue Mountain and the Village, and he pictures a world-class theatre in the middle.
Part of Hart’s career included working at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga.
“I do have an interest in arts, culture, and entertainment, but also I understand the potential of such a facility in this community,” he said. “It would really bring it to another level.”
After the feasibility study is complete, Hart hopes to have a better picture of how big the centre should be, how much it might cost, and how it should be run.
“The feasibility study is really going to give us an idea of what the potential looks like,” said Hart. “You always start off with a facility and a dream that will house everything … and then as reality sets in you start to focus on where the real priorities are. A lot of that is driven by what you think you can raise in funds and what are the priorities of the facility.”
When it comes to paying for the centre, Hart said he hopes CACE can help encourage other levels of government to contribute funds.
According to a news release issued by CACE, the group has met or connected with MP Terry Dowdall, MPP Jim Wilson, the Town of Collingwood, the Township of Clearview, and the Blue Mountain Village Association and Hart said all five have expressed support for an arts centre.
CACE is also gathering support from the community, asking those who are in favour of an arts centre to sign up via the CACE website. He said the group sends out periodic updates, but is not asking for money at this time.
“We’re not collecting names and email addresses for anything at this point … except to say we’ve got this many folks who signed up and said, yes we support the arts centre in the community,” said Hart.
So far, he noted, they have gathered nearly 1,000 supporters.