Corp Comm Connects

Aurora Cultural Centre to be displaced for two-year construction period

Aurora Cultural Centre plans to keep programs, performances intact in venues across town
August 27, 2019
Teresa Latchford

The Aurora Cultural Centre plans to take its show on the road next year.

Executive Director Suzanne Haines confirmed during the construction of Library Square, specifically the addition to the Church Street School, the Aurora Cultural Centre will be operating elsewhere in the community.

“We’ll be out in the community for about two years,” she said. “People shouldn’t hesitate to sign up for our programs and concerts because our intention is to not cancel anything, just operate in different venues in town.”

Aurora town council has already approved the design of Library Square but the final costing isn’t expected from town staff for consideration until November or December this year. If council approves the full costing of the project, a bidding process will determine the contractor and the Cultural Centre could be displaced early next year.

“Even though the specific date hasn’t been set yet we schedule programs and performances way ahead of time,” Haines explained. “We are currently exploring our options, forming community partnerships and looking at local venues that would be suitable.”

The centre’s programs will most likely end up operating in different venues around town rather than in one facility, she said. The Town of Aurora is providing support and assistance as centre staff continue to explore where the programs fit best.

During construction and renovations, the portion of the building that houses the centre’s staircase and elevator will be demolished, meaning the building will not be compliant with accessibility standards and there is little access to the upper and lower levels of the building. While it will better display the historic outer brick wall, access to the second egress and basement will be nil until the renovation is complete.

“While it may seem inconvenient, we see this as an enormous opportunity,” she added. “One, we get to go out into the community and reach people we may not have otherwise and two, it seems like a small price to pay when it comes to what we will gain through the project.”

The new building will be connected to the historic building via a glass atrium so residents can navigate between the old and the new, being the Church Street School and new three-storey facility.

On the ground level, there is a plaza, which includes dedicated space for the Aurora Museum and Archives, a program room that can be split into two with a retractable wall, a proposed cafe and a retractable glass wall to be opened in summer months to let users spill out into the outdoor square. There will also be a separate entrance to make the washroom facilities accessible during off hours when the square is in use but the buildings surrounding it are closed. From the Victoria Street entrance, there will be an open design created with windows and stairs, plus design features created with repurposed materials like timber from the former buildings that once stood on the site.

The next floor features a 246-seat performance hall, performing arts dance studio, program room, multi-purpose studio and visual arts room.

Most recently, town council approved the construction of a connection linking the Aurora Public Library to the Cultural Centre over Library Square.

While Haines is confident the Cultural Centre, along with the Museum and Archives, will have venue and program alternatives figured out by the fall, she admits the real challenge will be getting the word out to the public. She encourages all of those who are interested in registering for one of the centre’s programs or purchasing tickets to performances to still do so. Any changes will be posted on the website, communicated by the town and updates will be provided to the local media.

“This investment the town is making isn’t just about arts and culture, it will also impact the economy and connect the community,” she said. “There is a huge opportunity here and we are super excited to be part of it.”