Blyth 14/19 presents CCRC plans - April 27, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
The remodeled Blyth Memorial Hall will officially open on May 19 with a special ribbon cutting ceremony and tours of the updated facility.
The date was announced during North Huron council’s April 19 regular meeting, where Blyth Arts and Cultural Initiative 14/19 Project Director Peter Smith updated council on the progress ongoing renovations at Blyth Community Memorial Hall which are set to be completed early next month.
The opening will start at 4 p.m. and Smith said it’s going to be an exciting event.
“People will have the opportunity there to come and kick the tires,” Smith said. “They will see what the hall is going to look like.”
He also gave council a sneak-peek of what the Grant and Mildred Sparling Centre housing the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity will look like during the rerport.
Smith reported that, since the inception of 14/19, more than $7 million has been raised by the company with more than 90 per cent of it spent locally on Blyth Memorial Hall, the Grant and Mildred Sparling Centre, events like the Rural Talks To Rural conference and upgrades to the Phillips Studio.
Smith pointed to the upgrades to Blyth Memorial Hall, which are set to conclude soon, and said the final bill for the project, which was phase one of the original three-phase 14/19 mandate, ended up costing $4,291,801.
“Financially, the Sparling family donated $1 million, the township $500,000, the provincial government donated $3.3 million and the federal government almost $1 million,” he said. “Community members have stepped forward, continuing [to ask] us to take care of the site.”
The investment, however, wasn’t just a financial one according to Smith.
“The hall represents the stories of the community,” he said. “There is a social aspect there, with the Blyth Centre for the Arts in its 43rd season producing plays that are translated into a dozen languages across the world.”
Upgrades to the site include a completely redesigned lower hall, an expanded walkway in the “link” between Memorial Hall and the Blyth Festival offices, a public address system, redesigned stairs to the upper hall and balcony areas and a complete overhaul of the bar and kitchen sections with significant culinary upgrades.
The building also boasts a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system specially designed to run qietly as to not interfere with stage performances.
“It’s really exciting,” Smith said during his presentation.
North Huron Council donated $500,000 to the project, which Smith said has resulted, through leveraging that donation, in $7.50 being raised per $1 from the municipality.
He also said that the Blyth Festival’s 2017 season alone will result in $8,131,200 going into regional economics, providing a $16.26 return per dollar invested in Memorial Hall.
Other projects include upgrades to the Phillips Studio and architectural work for the Grant and Mildred Sparling Centre, which Smith says is shovel-ready.
He also presented draft blueprints of the building, which will be a two-storey building similar in shape to the one-storey school that was on the site.
The first floor of the structure measures 22,115-square-feet and includes an entire wing dedicated to fabric arts including an approximately 1,500-square-foot sewing room, a 1,300-square-foot weaving/spinning and fibre lab, a 400-square-foot tech room and a 2,450-square-foot silk screen studio.
The site will include an art gallery, a digital media studio, a business centre and digital library, dance studios, a café/bar space and a theatre also on the first floor.
The second floor measures 6,397 square feet and includes a wellness studio, gym, rooftop patio, studio space and audio/video recording spaces.
“There is nothing like this in Canada,” Smith said during his presentation. “Professionals have approached us to use this space already.”
Smith said the site will be an educational centre for students, a space for community workshops and a space for professional artists to ply their trade. He also said that the theatre could be used by the Blyth Festival for shows not on the main stage, but also said it could be used for lectures like Ted Talks and dinners.
“This is a world-class centre and we are very excited about it,” he said.
Smith also announced that the architect hopes the structure will aim to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification and recognition through Canada Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon program.