Properly address the void to Arts and Culture in Barrie created by terminating the lease of Georgian College Theatre.
Recently City of Barrie terminated its lease with Georgian College Theatre, which effectively turned its back on many key performing arts groups in the area. This leaves NO reasonable performance space in Barrie till at least 2025/2026 when Fisher Auditorium redux is anticipated for completion.
Engage with the key stakeholders, the arts organizations of Barrie, to facilitate a more thoughtful and robust solution.
The exiting of the Georgian College Theatre lease was a recommendation submitted to Council in response to the theatre space becoming unsafe for use and requiring significant investment in a fiscally challenging year, coupled with ongoing uncertainty created by the COVID-related gathering restrictions. It’s believed that this decision will allow all parties to refocus energy and resources in support of the need for a proper theatre that will be built with future needs embedded in its design.
Staff are committed to working with the arts and culture community in the interim to leverage existing spaces and facilities to provide performance space. In response to Council direction regarding the 2021 budget and the future of the Fisher Project, staff have begun outreach regarding options that might be available to help support user groups. Interim solutions will be developed and full engagement with artistic and cultural groups will take place.
With the exit from the lease at Georgian College, City Council has:
• authorized an increase to the 2021 Cultural Grant Program of $50,000 to support the arts and culture community
• created a Theatre Reserve of $2.5 million to ensure the continued financial support for a theatre project.
Staff have championed the retention of the City’s investment in the arts and culture community over the course of the pandemic in consultation with Barrie’s arts and cultural community. Staff recommended, and Council approved, the culture community retaining the $341,000 investment made through the Cultural Grants program (www.barrie.ca/CulturalGrants) and further reduced application requirements and increased investment in the 2021 program to support our organizations in keeping their doors open.
The City’s Recreation and Culture and Economic and Creative Development departments will continue to work with user groups and during these difficult times, find creative and innovative ways to ensure that the programs, the culture, and the facilities we are responsible for, are ready to recover from COVID when the time is right.
Shelley Wright commented
Georgian Theatre has been an integral part of the Cultural heritage and experience in Barrie. It provides community members of all ages to collaborate and participate in a wide variety of art experiences; dance, music (vocal, instrumental), art, etc. It supports local businesses which depend on clients passionate about the arts. Georgian theatre also connects our community with students from the College. I'm sure solutions exist to keep this fabulous venue open for years to come. Our family enjoyed many years on stage and in the audience. This experience has made a positive and lasting difference in our lives.We urge you to support Georgian College's historical legacy which enriches the lives of families. Events at Georgian have created beautiful memories for our family, that can be cherished for years to come.
Marcus Perry commented
RE: City of Barrie's comment.
These measures that you are taking to remedy this are the equivalent of slapping someone in the face and then saying "Sorry but I had no choice! Here is a nice shiny dollar for your pain now and maybe I will give you something to help you in a few years. But, don't hold me to it because I might be replaced in a few years. Let me know how I can help you in the meantime!"
If you want to ACTUALLY help the cultural community, significantly increase the cultural grant funding, establish an official arts and culture committee with councillors, staff, and arts leaders on it, and find ways to keep Georgian open in the meantime!
Ted Coach commented
The arts are as important if not more important than sports for younger children and adults alike. It allows for a creative outlet and much needed non-sports activities. Lifelong friendships are formed and theatre created an active economy. Please consider this ridiculous decision.
Steve Major commented
It’s very simple. You cannot close the only large scale venue in Barrie until you open a new one of equal or greater size. Stripping the arts community in Barrie of its only large scale venue is unacceptable.
Lori Scholten-Dallimore commented
I am asking City Counscil to reconsider the decision regarding Georgian Theatre and then begin now to engage with the arts community to support a thriving program in Barrie.
Julie Underhill commented
As an active community member with performing arts and an educator, I am asking for City Councillors to consider start meeting with the artistic community to start planning and consultation now. Please do not wait until 2022 to start these discussions. We need to be planning now! Bring us to the table to be part of the solution. We are excited about supporting a vibrant and complete picture of Cultural activities and programming in our city.
This not only affects arts organizations, it affects the citizens of Barrie as a whole. Any active community needs a thriving arts scene.