$5 million grant approved by council for downtown arts incubator

Council passed the motion yesterday to allocate $5 million as a Community Capital Grant to aid the Arts Council of Wood Buffalo (ACWB) in developing the Arts Inc project.

The project intends to create an arts incubator in the former Landmark Cinema building located in downtown Fort McMurray.

An arts incubator is a purpose-built space to give individuals a centre focused on giving artists a place to gather and work on their craft.

Liana Wheeldon, Executive Director with ACWB says now that they have an agreement from the municipality, they will go to their next major funder which is a federal grant from Canadian Heritage.

“They’re a matching grant program, so we will use the funds from the municipality to provide that matching amount. Then when Canadian Heritage gives us the timeframe of when we’ll receive the funds from them; then we’ll purchase the building,” Wheeldon explained.

She commented that they are waiting for a total of roughly $8-9 million before they commit to purchasing the building.

No contract is currently in place to prevent another buyer from purchasing the building, but Wheeldon says that with the positive vote from council, they can now begin that process.

“The first thing we will do after purchasing the building will be to renovate three of the four parking lots that are available with the property and then we can start to use that as a revenue stream. We’ve had conversations with a number of businesses that would like to take part in that,” says Wheeldon.

“Our next move would be to renovate the projection room that would have a unique entrance and elevator access. It has a board room and has the possibility for about seven offices and a reception area.”

For now, the team is calling the building Arts Inc as it’s the projects name, but Wheeldon says that may not always be the case, “will it be the building name- it might be.”

ACWB is considering allowing the option for naming rights by fundraisers according to Wheeldon.

She mentioned that the whole project should take around two years and is hoping to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the summer of 2024.

“We’re so grateful to administration, mayor, and council. They’ve been amazing through this process.”






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