Q&A – What the new arts cen­tre means for Or­léans

City’s port­fo­lio man­ager talks about the Shenkman Arts Cen­tre

Orleans Star - - LOCAL NEWS - Laura CUM­MINGS

ince its mid-June launch, the Shenkman Arts Cen­tre has joined a grow­ing net­work of area de­vel­op­ment, aim­ing to bol­ster east-end arts and the lo­cal econ­omy with a month’s op­er­a­tions al­ready un­der their belt. Caro­line Obeid, the City of Ottawa’s port­fo­lio man­ager for Shenkman, sat down with the Star to talk about the new fa­cil­ity’s in­ner work­ings and what’s in store for the fu­ture. Star: With the cen­tre’s June 18-21 open­ing week­end a huge mile­stone, what were your im­pres­sions of the ex­pe­ri­ence and how it met – or ex­ceeded – ex­pec­ta­tions? Obeid: It def­i­nitely ex­ceeded our ex­pec­ta­tions. We were re­ally strate­gic in how, from the Thurs­day to the Sun­day, we were able to show­case the en­tire build­ing in re­ally dif­fer­ent ways, so all kinds of audiences could get ac­cess into the build­ing. We be­lieve there were about 10,000 peo­ple who came through the doors over those four days, which for us was so ex­cit­ing, and we en­gaged about 1,000 artists, show­cas­ing their work. Star: How does Shenkman’s pri­vate-pub­lic part­ner­ship work, and why is the build­ing named af­ter the Shenkman fam­ily? Obeid: The city didn’t have the cap­i­tal to do this at this time, on their own. So they reached out to a pri­vate de­vel­oper, who’s in­ter­ested in not only the art cen­tre, but the en­tire Town Cen­tre lands. They won the bid with the city, so we went into a part­ner­ship with them. The build­ing is es­sen­tially owned by them for the next 30 years, but we’re leas­ing the build­ing – the city is op­er­at­ing the build­ing. The whole Shenkman piece is that we asked Arts Ottawa East to take the lead­er­ship in fundrais­ing for the city, and that’s what the AR­Tic­i­pate cam­paign is. The first do­na­tion they re­ceived was in the fall of 2007, and it was from the Shenkman Fam­ily Foun­da­tion for $1 mil­lion, and that was for the nam­ing rights for the cen­tre. Star: What does the en­dow­ment fund mean for Shenkman, and how will that money be chan­nelled back into the cen­tre, as well as ben­e­fit res­i­dents

Sand artists? Obeid: It’s from cor­po­rate do­na­tions, from in­di­vid­ual do­na­tions. It’s ba­si­cally be­ing put in a high-in­ter­est sav­ings ac­count at the city, and an­nu­ally the money, the in­ter­est comes out and it will go to­wards pro­gram­ming for the cen­tre. It’s a per­ma­nent sav­ings op­por­tu­nity for the cen­tre. Some of the funds will be fun­nelled to­wards the arts part­ners that ex­ist at the cen­tre … for them to con­tinue do­ing pro­gram­ming, and fur­ther de­velop col­lab­o­ra­tions with the com­mu­nity. But also a por­tion of those funds an­nu­ally will be fun­nelled to­wards the com­mu­nity arts groups and artists to spark new cre­ation at the cen­tre. Star: Looking ahead, what are res­i­dents go­ing to see at the cen­tre in com­ing months? Obeid: Right now, we have a mul­ti­tude of sum­mer camps that are go­ing on, so the build­ing’s quite alive over the sum­mer. We moved in re­ally fast and fu­ri­ous … so right now we’re tak­ing a step back and go­ing,‘Okay, what re­ally works, and what needs some tweak­ing?’ so that we can de­liver our fall sea­son with the best cus­tomer ser­vice pos­si­ble, and with the most ex­cit­ing pro­gram­ming avail­able. We have a full pro­gram­ming ros­ter,with front and cen­tre pro­gram­ming,in­clud­ing Aaron Lines, Lee Har­vey Osmond and Tom Wil­son. Ba­si­cally lots of mu­si­cians that are very well-known who are com­ing to the arts cen­tre. Star: For res­i­dents looking to stay on top of all th­ese dif­fer­ent events and pro­grams, what’s the best way to keep in­formed? Obeid: We’re open 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Peo­ple can ba­si­cally come in, take a self-guided tour … visit the arts part­ners, visit the ex­hi­bi­tion spa­ces, take a look at the pub­lic art col­lec­tion. There’s also guest ser­vices, which is a cen­tral point for them to get all that in­for­ma­tion. Star: What about spa­ces avail­able for rental by the pub­lic within Shenkman? Obeid: There are many spa­ces to rent at the cen­tre. We have a mu­sic and dance re­hearsal hall; what’s great about Shenkman is that ev­ery­thing’s been pur­pose-built. It’s ready for use. You’ve got the up­per and lower lob­bies for re­cep­tions, you’ve got Harold Shenkman Hall, which is our 505-seat the­atre; you’ve got the Black Box, which is our flex­i­ble, 100-seat the­atre. There’s a new me­dia cen­tre and peo­ple can even rent out­side, like the Agora space. The arts part­ners also have many stu­dio and arts spa­ces to rent.A good place to start is on the web­site, and then they can call

our book­ings co­or­di­na­tor. Star: With so much dis­cus­sion on how the cen­tre will im­pact the arts, what’s your re­sponse to peo­ple who only think Shenkman will serve a niche mar­ket? Obeid: There’s never been some­thing like this de­vel­oped in this end of town. This is a fo­cal point for the arts, but there’s lots of dif­fer­ent ways to get in­volved. If you want some vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, or you need to put in co-op time or you’re in­ter­ested in the tech­ni­cal as­pects of back­stage. And there’s lots of ways to rent the space that aren’t artis­tic-fo­cused. It is art-fo­cused, but it’s for every­one. We’re hop­ing it’s a gath­er­ing place for peo­ple. There’s lots of ben­e­fits that are go­ing to come from this arts cen­tre be­ing here.

Photo by Eti­enne Ranger

The Shenkman Arts Cen­tre on Cen­trum Boule­vard is open, so now what? Caro­line Obeid, the cen­tre’s port­fo­lio man­ager, ex­plains what’s in store.

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