Editor’s note: This letter is addressed to the mayor and council:
Please consider this letter as a response from the non-profit board of the Chatham Kent Arts and Culture Network (CKACN) to the proposed Downtown Chatham Centre redevelopment project.
We also respectfully request that this letter and the concerns/questions noted be considered as a deputation letter to be read at council when the survey results are reviewed.
While we, in general, support the overall redevelopment of the downtown mall area, we have the following questions and concerns regarding the impact on cultural programs/operations and facilities, as a direct result of the changes proposed.
What are the overall implications to cultural facilities throughout all C-K regarding programming, maintenance, upkeep, and annual budgets?
What are the net and gross tax implications in a projected spreadsheet format for the overall project?
Which cultural facilities will be closed and sold?
In one of the many consultants’ reports regarding a large arena complex, it was noted that it would take 55 major events per year to maintain operational costs. Has this been explored as to the viability of this 4,000-seat facility?
What are the impacts regarding Memorial and Erickson arenas?
We also have concerns related to the Chatham Cultural Centre and overall CK-wide cultural operations/facilities/programs.
In 2003, council designated the Kiwanis Theatre and Thames Art Gallery as property of cultural heritage value and interest. If this property is sold as surplus, will council continue to support and uphold this designation?
What are the implications for storage and display space in the new facility for the Thames Art Gallery and C-K Museum, and how will that compare to what we have now in the Chatham Cultural Centre?
Will the space allocations for both be enlarged to accommodate future growth?
Will the national standards and upper-level government funding for operations be retained? Will council approach the federal governments as to maintaining the National Gallery and C-K Museum environmental standards that will allow for continued federal funding if the facilities are moved?
Will the provincial/federal environmental standards required for the collections be retained?
Will the volunteer committees/advisory boards for the two facilities be consulted as to the move and future design/space requirements?
Will the provincial and federal ministries be consulted as to standards and capital funding opportunities for the culture and recreation components?
What will happen to the community-driven ARTspace facility and will the ARTspace volunteers be consulted?
Could we save the Kiwanis Theatre space and continue with the 400-seat conversion from the current 700 seats as promised? A $1 surcharge per ticket sale was set up (over 10 years ago) to cover costs. What happens to this fund if the Kiwanis Theatre/Chatham Cultural Centre is closed?
Could we repurpose the Chatham Cultural Centre as an arts and culture hub for community arts and culture organizations to maximize the Chatham Cultural Centre space? Could the facility be saved/converted to a community arts hub with artist studios, office rentals for cultural groups, smaller community performance groups/organizations?
The Kiwanis Music Festival, Theatre Kent, National Theatre Drama Festival (previously the Sears Drama Festival), Studio One performances, matinees and other smaller events are not compatible with the 1,200-seat Capitol Theatre or a 4,000-seat entertainment complex. It should be noted that the cost to perform in either facility is based on royalties regarding the number of seats in each facility, not the number of people attending, plus the facility rental fee. If the Kiwanis Theatre is gone, this will impact smaller performing groups that cannot afford the enhanced royalties and some will be unable to continue their business model.
Will the 4,000-seat entertainment complex replace smaller performances at, or compete with, the existing 1,200-seat Capitol Theatre facility?
Where will the community box office be located?
What will happen to the Milner House, Ridge House Museum, and other C-K Museum facilities throughout C-K?
The Chatham Cultural Centre is an iconic facility with a long history of community support and is identified as such in the Cultural Master Plan. The presentations noted that cultural facility considerations/programming will be in line with the Cultural Master Plan. How will this happen, and will the considerations be made public?
Will there be any community in-person public consultation meetings planned in addition to the online survey?
We encourage groups and concerned citizens to write letters outlining their concerns regarding this proposed project to the survey format and to council, requesting that their letters be read as a deputation.
James Snyder, chair,
Chatham Kent Arts and Culture Network