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Centre in the Square
#1
Centre in the Square


[Image: Centre_In_The_Square.jpg]

[Image: Centre-in-the-square-2.jpg]
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#2
City to review Centre in Square’s mission
August 26, 2014 | Catherine Thompson | Waterloo Region Record | Link
Quote:KITCHENER — For the first time in more than three decades, Kitchener city council has agreed to spell out clearly what it expects of the city-owned Centre in the Square.

"You own the building," consultant Duncan Webb told council Monday. "It's for you to decide what you want it to do for your community and your taxpayers."

The city paid Webb, a New York-based consultant specializing in the arts, $67,000 to suggest ways to improve operations at both the Centre in the Square and its anchor tenant, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

Both arts organizations have faced growing financial pressures, and tensions between the two organizations have mounted recently as the centre has pushed for more freedom to book other acts on Friday and Saturday nights — prime spots often reserved for the symphony.

City council approved a recommendation to have the city review the Centre in the Square's mandate and mission. A key part of that, Webb said, is to spell out what the city expects from the centre, and how it would measure the facility's success in meeting those expectations.

Once its role has been clarified, it will be easier for the centre to determine questions such as the types of shows it should be offering, who its target audience is, and how much it charges for tickets, Webb said.

The centre hasn't changed its mission and mandate since it opened in 1980.

Marcus Shantz, the chair of the Centre in the Square's board of directors, welcomed the move to clarify the facility's mission.

"I feel like we're getting somewhere," he said after the meeting.

"What I appreciated hearing was that everybody agrees that the centre and the city need to re-engage."

But it may take some time for the city to firm up the centre's mandate, since councillors made it clear they want the public to take part in those discussions.

Coun. John Gazzola, who sits on the centre's board, spoke most passionately about the value of the symphony and the Centre in the Square.

"We need to go to the public," he said.

"We will hear from the stakeholders, but we need to hear from the person on the streets" about the centre's future and mandate, Gazzola said.

Council also decided to cut city representation on the centre's board to just the mayor and one councillor. Currently, the mayor and three city councillors sit on the 14-member board.

Over the years, city councillors sitting on the board have become too involved in the day-to-day operations of the centre, rather than simply providing broad direction, Webb said.

With so many city politicians on the board, Webb said in his report, some non-politicians on the board aren't clear whether they should serve the interests of the city or the Centre in the Square, and "many do not believe that they have the ability to provide meaningful service and value to the organization."

City council also voted to:

• Pay one-third of the cost of a facilitator to resolve disputes between the symphony and the Centre in the Square about rent and scheduling;

• Review what renovations are needed for the 34-year-old building and spell out how they would be paid for.

The struggles faced by both arts organizations aren't that different from those faced by symphonies and concert halls across North America, Webb told council.

The population served by the two organizations is well-educated and reasonably well off, and should be able to support a symphony and a 2,000-seat performance centre, he said.

The two organizations should look at the potential to tap into areas such as the tech sector, which could yield both potential donors and potential customers, and should use more "dynamic pricing — moving prices up and down the way airlines do, to maximize yield," Webb said.

Webb also recommended that the Centre in the Square and the symphony look at integrating some operations, and potentially even merging at some point, saying joint operations would allow both organizations to run more cheaply and efficiently and co-operate with marketing.
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#3
So what do you think? What needs to be done to "fix" the Centre in the Square?
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#4
The suggestion to move KW Symphony concerts to Thursdays is a good one. Weekends are where it's at for big name acts.

There need to be more amenities within walking distance; CITS is isolated by parking lots and institutional buildings. It's really too far from the rest of downtown.
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#5
I agree with the comment about more amenities. I think they should use the space at the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts more. They have that space to use, so why not use it. And lots of amenities near by.

One thing I'd like to see is when big shows are in town, any extra seats an hour before hand get sold off at a big discount. Not only does it generate a little extra revenue, it gets people out in the downtown and exposed to some events they might not normally be exposed to.
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#6
Spokes Wrote:I agree with the comment about more amenities. I think they should use the space at the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts more. They have that space to use, so why not use it. And lots of amenities near by.

One thing I'd like to see is when big shows are in town, any extra seats an hour before hand get sold off at a big discount. Not only does it generate a little extra revenue, it gets people out in the downtown and exposed to some events they might not normally be exposed to.


When you say "they", you mean the KWS? The Conrad Centre is their rehearsal space. Part of the reconciliation between CITS and KWS would see the latter return to CITS, which would open the Conrad Centre for more opportunities.
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#7
panamaniac Wrote:
Spokes Wrote:I agree with the comment about more amenities. I think they should use the space at the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts more. They have that space to use, so why not use it. And lots of amenities near by.

One thing I'd like to see is when big shows are in town, any extra seats an hour before hand get sold off at a big discount. Not only does it generate a little extra revenue, it gets people out in the downtown and exposed to some events they might not normally be exposed to.


When you say "they", you mean the KWS? The Conrad Centre is their rehearsal space. Part of the reconciliation between CITS and KWS would see the latter return to CITS, which would open the Conrad Centre for more opportunities.
That is what I meant by they. I didn't know that. Very interesting. I wasn't sure what kind of draw they typically get at their performances.

I'd love to see the Conrad Centre used more.
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#8
DHLawrence Wrote:The suggestion to move KW Symphony concerts to Thursdays is a good one. Weekends are where it's at for big name acts.

There need to be more amenities within walking distance; CITS is isolated by parking lots and institutional buildings. It's really too far from the rest of downtown.

Some KWS concerts are on Thursdays, but I expect that this will become the norm under any new arrangements.

I also agree about the lack of amenities, but it doesn't seem to be on anyone's radar. The KCL blew it by not incorporating a café with its own entrance into the renovation/expansion project and I doubt there will be anything incorporated as part of the County Courthouse renovation either. At the moment, the only amenity of any sort in the Civic District is the cafeteria in the Regional HQ. They could be doing much more, imho.
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#9
panamaniac Wrote:At the moment, the only amenity of any sort in the Civic District is the cafeteria in the Regional HQ. They could be doing much more, imho.

At least the library still intends to add a cafe.
My Twitter: @KevinLMaps
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#10
KevinL Wrote:
panamaniac Wrote:At the moment, the only amenity of any sort in the Civic District is the cafeteria in the Regional HQ. They could be doing much more, imho.

At least the library still intends to add a cafe.

That's the plan, but it will be inside the building and will need to adhere to Library hours, which seems to limit its viability. The irony is that a well-regarded local café tried to engage them and couldn't get them to focus on the idea of incorporating a "free-standing" coffee shop into the project. One understands that their priority was the Library itself, but it seems like a missed opportunity to me. I hope that KWAG won't make the same mistake if they ever have the resources for a new Gallery to display the Tannenbaum collection of naïve art that was recently gifted to them.

By the way, if anyone hasn't been to the Region HQ cafeteria, it's a decent lunch option but what makes the visit worthwhile are the old local history/heritage murals on the walls. They were originally installed in the old Waterloo Trust building at King and Ontario Sts.
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#11
I wonder if the rumour of THEMUSEUM buying an adjacent building with auditorium space refers to the Conrad Centre and not the building facing Queen after all. I've thought they should buy it since Theatre & Company folded.

If space inside CITS is being reorganized, could moving the KW Art Gallery be helpful? I find it gets lost within the performing arts portion of the complex; maybe moving would raise its profile and allow for greater flexibility.
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#12
DHLawrence Wrote:I wonder if the rumour of THEMUSEUM buying an adjacent building with auditorium space refers to the Conrad Centre and not the building facing Queen after all. I've thought they should buy it since Theatre & Company folded.

If space inside CITS is being reorganized, could moving the KW Art Gallery be helpful? I find it gets lost within the performing arts portion of the complex; maybe moving would raise its profile and allow for greater flexibility.

No, the thinking at THEMUSEUM is to expand to the rest of the former Goudies (i.e. the former Bramante building facing Queen St). That new space would have a theatre/auditorium in it, I believe. Whether there is any private money to enable such a major expansion is an open question.

I sometimes wonder whether the KWAG couldn't be a candidate to occupy the former Provincial Courthouse, but again that would be hugely expensive. I think the long range plans for the civic district contemplate an expansion of the KWAG building out toward Queen Street.
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#13
It's a shame that the Centre is having issues, it is an amazing space where I have preformed several times and seen many many shows. The reality is that it is expensive to run a show at the Centre, there is ticketing fees, venue rental, and your always need IATSE union members to use the space. The problem for theatre organizations is there is the Centre and the Registry Theatre, there is no mid sized theatre venue in KW that is open to the community. The Conrad is taken up by the symphony and nearly impossible to get into, humanities theatre is reserved for UW, any of the high schools could bump a theatre group with less then 2 weeks notice and Drayton is doing it's own thing.
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#14
Brenden, what do you consider "mid sized"?
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#15
I don't know whether I agree with City Council's decision yesterday on CITS' mandate, but it's probably best in the absence of another, smaller venue that could focus on the local arts and cultural community. Council's decision to limit additional support to $350,000 per year (if I understand correctly) makes me think that CITS will have a hard slog ahead of it financially.


http://www.kitchener.ca/en/News/index.as...2dc7869799
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