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Theatre Centre gets new home

December 3rd, 2012 · No Comments

$6.2 million renovation to make Carnegie Library performing arts centre

By Ryan Saundercook

After 33 years of a somewhat unstable nomadic existence, the Theatre Centre has broken ground on the renovation of its first permanent home – the Carnegie Library, a 104-year-old heritage property located at 1115 Queen St. West.

The $6.2 million renovation project kicked off Oct. 11, 2012 and has reached 84 per cent of its funding goal.

“We’ve been in this community for the last 23 years … For us, moving out of this neighbourhood didn’t make a whole lot of sense because of the commitment we have to the community,” said Franco Boni, General and Artistic Director of the Theatre Centre in an interview with Gleaner News. “And because the neighbourhood itself very organically became an arts and culture focused area. So it was important for us to be a performing arts anchor.”

The funding has largely been funded by federal, provincial and local government. The federal government and the Department of Heritage have donated $1.8 million. $1.2 million has come from the province, $500,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and $1 million from the city of Toronto.

An artist’s rendering of what the renovated structure may look like upon completion. COURTESY OF THE THEATRE CENTRE

“The fact that the three levels have come through with something for this project is just sensational. It’s rare when that happens,” said Boni. “And it’s also important to understand that we’re an arts organization … but we’re not a large company. For the government to recognize our importance in the arts ecology is truly extraordinary.”

The new establishment will include a performance space with seating for up to 200 people, a rehearsal laboratory, a multi-purpose café that will serve as a casual performance space, and a gallery for visual art. The building’s historic façade will remain untouched.

“I believe what we do and what the Theatre Centre provides is an incubator for new work and new performance,” said Boni. “That kind of space is very much needed in the arts ecology and cultural ecology of the city.”

Toronto City Councillor Ana Bailão praised the lasting influence The Theatre Centre has had on the area in a press release:

“I am overjoyed with the Theatre Centre’s new location, and join with the local community in celebrating the groundbreaking ceremony,” she said. “The Theatre Centre has been performing a vital role as promoter and developer of local theatre programming for more than 20 years and will continue to anchor this area as the West Queen West arts scene continues to develop.”

In the centre’s 33 year history it has helped produce a number of successful productions, garnering over 20 Dora nominations and awards.

The Theatre Centre is currently making its home at a temporary location at 1095 Queen Street West and is expected to make the big move in 2013.

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