Keyano College hosted the first of many scheduled public engagement sessions on Jan. 30, 2020, to discuss its Arts Centre Project.
Inside the main lobby of the Keyano Theatre, guests received information about the project, asked questions, and got feedback.
They also had an opportunity to examine conceptual drawings of the new Arts Centre.
On Nov. 22, 2019, RMWB Council voted to provide Keyano College with a conditional capital grant of up to $16.85-million for the project.
Some residents agree a public art gallery addresses the region’s social and cultural needs as expressed in the Wood Buffalo Culture Plan and 2018-2021 RMWB Strategic Plan.
However, others said the Municipality should focus on providing for core services.
Keyano College President and CEO Trent Keough, who was available to speak with residents at the open house, said discussions were cordial and positive.
“In that listening, I think we’ll also gain insight into how we might be able to strength our project and to actually move people from nay-sayers to supporters.”
Aside from providing quarterly reports to Mayor and Councillors, Keough said the college would conduct several public engagement sessions.
Although, he added Keyano would work with Stantec to build a consultation plan.
“There will be a series of open houses, one-on-one [meetings], and there’s an online survey that we’ve launched. What we want people to look at are the design concepts, and say ‘How does this resonate [with] Wood Buffalo?’”
Discounting the Christmas holidays, Keough said they are in Week 7 since the launch of the project.
In their project handout, Keyano College listed the project’s economic benefits.
According to figures from Arts Impact Alberta 2014, the immediate benefits over the 18-month construction period are 75 contract jobs and 100-150 short term jobs.
As for long-term benefits, Keyano said for every $1-million invested, there are 20 full-time equivalent jobs with a return of $1.1-million.
Residents attending the open house could look at topographical drawings of the design concept and speak with its lead designer, Daniel Johnson.
He said his team spent months working on the design with vertical fins on the front of the building.
Johnson added the design considers the restrictions of extending the existing structure and seeks to improve the interior with natural light.
“You see on the designs there’s a fold that goes through those fins, and the idea there is to show almost like the opening of a theatre curtain as you come in.”
Until speaking with Johnson, one resident commented it reminded them of a file folder.
— MyMcMurray (@MyMcMurray) January 31, 2020
Trent Keough said the full project consists of remodelling the college’s old gymnasium into art studio spaces, building a standalone ceramics lab, and constructing the Arts Centre.
He added the art studio spaces would be the easiest of the three phases to complete.
However, he said the public engagement sessions come first, and his team look forward to travelling along the Winter Road to meet residents in Fort Chipewyan.
“We’re going to visit every rural community in the Municipality. We will learn certain things that worked effectively, and certain things we may need to add to our information brochure.”
Keough also said the college hired a firm in Calgary would put together the governance model.
Public engagement sessions and quarterly reports, and finding additional sources of revenue are all conditions attached to the funding from RMWB Council.
Keough said the college and administration would make a joint report at the next scheduled Council meeting on Feb. 11, 2020.
Keyano College offered several visual and performing arts programs such as drama, music, and visual arts until 2012.
For more information on the Arts Centre Project and to fill out a survey, go to the Keyano College website.