City stalls arts funds

Kingston donation critical for provincial contribution: Woolf

Principal Daniel Woolf says City Council’s decision to postpone approval of a donation was unexpected.
Principal Daniel Woolf says City Council’s decision to postpone approval of a donation was unexpected.
Journal File Photo

Final approval on the city of Kingston’s $6-million contribution to the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts has been delayed until Apr. 6.

The $63 million centre will provide recital, theatre, screening and rehearsal space. Isabel and Alfred Bader donated $18 million to the project and attended the Oct. 1 groundbreaking ceremony.

“This new cultural hub for the city will enhance the teaching of the creative arts at Queen’s and promote more collaboration between the University and Kingston-area arts groups and encourage regional cultural tourism which supports Queen’s and the City,” Principal Daniel Woolf said, adding that securing this funding from the city is critical in securing further funding.

“We had hoped to get the City’s final approval … at this week’s Council meeting,” he said. “The City’s funding pledge is critical to securing $30 million from the federal and provincial governments.”

Kingston City Council was supposed to vote to approve the donation this week but decided to postpone it until the next Council meeting on April 6.

“The decision to postpone the vote was not anticipated,” he said. “We found out on the afternoon of the Council meeting. We were surprised, but hope for a positive vote at the next Council meeting.”

Woolf said last year the University negotiated a contract with the city wherein the University would contribute $8.5 million.

“Queen’s agreed to make an $8.5 million contribution toward the development of the King Street West property, which would include both the Performing Arts Centre and a renovated City-owned J.K. Tett building, which houses several local arts groups, which in turn benefits Queen’s,” he told the Journal in an e-mail.  “Part of Queen’s $8.5-million site contribution would go toward the Tett renovation and part would cover shared services where it makes sense for both buildings – infrastructure work that can be more cost-efficient if done at the same time.”

Cynthia Beach, Commissioner Sustainability and Growth said City Council was unable to vote to approve the $6 million contribution because they needed to work out the technicalities of having two different buildings with two different owners on one lot.

“We were trying to get those details done prior to the meeting but we weren’t able to finalize some of the details,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll have the report on the next council meeting on Apr. 6.”

Beach said the city sold Queen’s the Performing Arts building but has kept another building on the King St. West lot.

“The city owns the whole site. We sold a portion to Queens but we need to work out how the access to the site will be determined and how utilities will be handled because it is different than it was when the whole site was under one ownership,” she said.

“The City has retained a building on the site and we are planning on renovating that heritage building,” she said. “What we’re proposing to do is we would program community art space but there would also be tenants in the building so the building will be owned by the city and operated by a cooperative group so the cost on that piece would be the City’s responsibility.”

The report which describes the logistics of the site wasn’t ready for the last council meeting.

“Basically going through some of the technical details on the financing and costing,” Beach said, adding that the Council did vote to approve the business plan at the last meeting.

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