Arts hub gets $10 million in public funding

Proposed Culture Link facility will bring an “unprecedented number of creative sector entrepreneurs” under one roof, says minister.

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A culture link is like an arts hub, but more innovative. - VIA HRM
  • VIA HRM
  • A culture link is like an arts hub, but more innovative.

Looks like downtown will finally get some Culture.

The Link Performing Arts Centre will receive $4.5 million in funding from the federal government. Pablo Rodriguez, minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, made the announcement on Monday alongside Halifax MP Andy Fillmore.

“The Halifax region has benefited greatly from arts and culture for many years,” Fillmore said in a news release. “The Link Arts Centre will give our city and the whole region an additional asset. The artists, creators and the general public will now have access to modern and accessible spaces, right here in downtown Halifax.”

The province has also agreed to chip in $5.7 million, with roughly half coming from Invest Nova Scotia and the remainder from Communities, Culture and Heritage.

Culture minister Leo Glavine said on Monday that the proposed $13-million arts hub will bring an “unprecedented number of creative sector entrepreneurs” under one roof.

“The Link Arts Centre will be transformative for the arts and cultural industries in Nova Scotia and an economic driver for both Halifax and the province.”

The money will be used to renovate the former Halifax World Trade and Convention Centre, which George Armoyan's Armco bought from the province two years ago for $13.5 million. Armco will provide a 20-year, below-market lease, as well as $2 million towards the project's capital costs.

The renovated centre will serve as a cultural hub for theatre, dance, music and film. Its 84,000 square feet of space will include an 1,800-seat performance venue, along with room for production studios, offices, dance floors and a cinema.

Organizations who've so far expressed interest in long-term leases at the centre include DHX Media, Sonic Entertainment, Carbon Arc, AFCOOP, Youth Arts Connection, the Pop Explosion, the ECMAs, Devour and Halifax Pride, among others.

The Link's organizers say other potential clients interested in short-term rentals include Dapopo Theatre, Eastern Front, Halifax Circus, Dance Nova Scotia, Mocean Dance, Music Nova Scotia, the Halifax Urban Folk Festival and the Jazz Fest.

Music Nova Scotia's Scott Long, chair of the Link Performing Arts Society, said in Monday's release that the centre “will cement Halifax as the cultural capital of Atlantic Canada and help nurture the next generation of creative entrepreneurs in our region.”

The non-profit Link Performing Arts Society is organizing the venture with Culture Link, a community interest company from film producer Marc Almon and editing impresario Rob Power.

Unlike traditional non-profits, a CIC can turn a profit, but only if 60 percent of the proceeds are redistributed towards the organization's stated mission of community benefit.

The Link proposal will be one of potentially a handful of new arts hubs coming to the downtown over the next few years. Culture Link's proposal was submitted at the same time council approved the $1-sale of the old Khyber to the 1588 Barrington Building Preservation Society, along with a one-time grant of $250,000 to create a cultural arts incubator.

Though the two plans share some overlap, city staff say they’re fundamentally different in scope and service. The renovated Khyber will act as a community-run centre for emerging visual artists, while the Link will be a multi-disciplinary, creative industries hub.

“By supporting both venues, Halifax will be enabling the development of a distinct cultural district that will provide space and opportunity for artists and artist-led community-facing organizations as well as cultural industries and entrepreneurs,” says staff.

With today’s funding contributions from the province, federal government and Armco, that leaves just $800,000 needed to complete The Link.

A funding request of $1 million from city hall's coffers goes before council tomorrow, having already received an initial stamp of approval from HRM’s community planning and economic development committee.

Pending approval of all monies, The Link is set to open in 2020.

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