Tett Centre site a win-win for city and Queen's, VP says
Redevelopment of the waterfront Tett Centre presents an exceptional opportunity for Queen's to build cultural links with the city, says Vice-Principal (Operations and Finance) Andrew Simpson. For more, see the March 13 Gazette.
Redevelopment of the waterfront Tett Centre presents an exceptional opportunity for Queen's to build cultural links with the city, says Vice-Principal (Operations and Finance) Andrew Simpson.
The city is looking at three options for the former brewery site and its century-old limestone structures – leaving it essentially unchanged, redeveloping the community uses of the site to make it more self-sustaining, or redeveloping it for joint use by the community and the university.
For many years, the university has been looking for a site for a new performing arts facility, which will include a concert hall and theatre. Mr. Simpson believes the site can accommodate both the community and the university's needs, but cautions that the project is still at a concept level and technical details have yet to be worked out.
“We don't have all the answers to all the questions yet. We have been listening to the community's needs as a first priority.”
Local residents who use the centre are concerned about what major changes may be required as the city moves to make the site more self-sustaining. And some of that anxiety has been directed at Queen's, with some people at a recent public meeting suggesting Queen's may try to take over the site.
“There's a certain of anxiety and it's not just about Queen's,” said Reid Henry, a consultant with Toronto-based Artscape, which has been hired by the City of Kingston to compile a report on the site.
Artscape was chosen primarily for its experience in developing cultural cluster sites, such as Toronto's Distillery District. Current tenants at the site, which include theatres, artisans, and other community groups, have enjoyed low rents for 35 years, but it's costing the city about $50,000 a year, he said. Most of the heritage buildings on the site also require some retrofitting and updating. To make the site affordable and self-sustaining will require new visions, new partnerships and plenty of collaboration.
The Tett site needs a diverse mix of groups working together to change the site from a liability to an asset, said Mr. Henry.
“Tenants need to become more active and more collaborative, and the city must also do its part, and part of this is recognizing what Queen's' involvement could provide,” he said.
Robin Etherington, the city's culture and heritage manager, also stressed that forming vigorous and workable partnerships is crucial to the success of the project.
These partnerships are the glue that forges cultural clusters, an increasingly popular and successful model for sustaining arts within a community, she said.
For more, see the March 13 Gazette.