Feasibility study for performing arts and cultural centre in Red Deer set for 2017

City council seeks community input

Next year arts and culture groups will have an opportunity to tell the city what kind of performing arts centre/cultural facility is needed in Red Deer.

This week during capital budget debate city council approved $220,000 for a feasibility study for 2017. Previously, the study was scheduled to be conducted in 2020.

Diana Anderson, co-ordinator for Red Deer Arts Council, was more than delighted by council’s decision.

“Awesome. The sooner the better,” said Anderson who didn’t want to wait until 202o.

She said the facility should be a place for all artists and the arts council has been waiting for this opportunity.

“We need more than a concert hall. We need studio space for visual artists. We need performing space and a rehearsal space for all sorts of performers.”

She said it would be great for it to have a gallery to showcase visual art, as well as meeting space for literary artists.

“If you get everyone together in the arts in one building can you imagine what could come out of the collaboration and the co-operation between all those groups,” Anderson said.

Council has not set a construction date for a performing arts centre/cultural facility except that it would be 2027 or later.

Coun. Tanya Handley was the only councillor to vote against the study. She preferred the scope of the project be determined before asking for community input to prevent disappointment.

“I don’t want to go to the community and say design your dream and then continue to shut them down because the dream is so big we won’t fund it for 30 years,” Handley said during debate on Wednesday.

But Coun. Lynne Mulder said the scope of the project will come out of the feasibility study.

In 2014, the arts facility ranked fourth in the community’s amenity wish list.

“We have to respect our citizens in wanting to move forward with this. I want to know what people want,” Mulder said.

She said the project also needs to be included in the 10-year capital plan.

“I think we do need to dream big. We do need to have vision. It has to be realistic, but we can do that as we go along,” Mulder said.

Mayor Tara Veer said the city does need to explore what is needed.

“I think it warrants proceeding with the study, but I think we need to look at the aggregate and manage expectations about what we can do and when,” Veer said.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com