There are well-known restaurants, shopping malls, schools, and family law offices in Barrie
, a small city in Canada. But, as of writing, the city still needs a performing arts centre (PAC), which is a must for the artists living in the quaint but vibrant area.
For years, Barries need for its own PAC has been well known by its resident artists. But recent approval from the Barrie City Council brought the citizens one step closer to having a local arts centre.
On January 31, the council greenlighted a motion
to support the continued establishment of a PAC in Downtown Barrie.
The approval follows the foundation of a Performing Arts Centre Task Force last year. In March 2021, the council allowed the creation of an alliance to facilitate the construction of a modern arts facility in the city.
Members from various stakeholders in the arts and culture sector joined the PAC Task Force. Other members of the alliance include sector champions and influencers.
City Councillors J. Harris, R. Thomson, and C. Riepma are some of the individuals who volunteer their expertise to be members of the alliance. Organizations and other industry members can join the group on an ad-hoc basis as stakeholder partners.
The PAC task force presented its final report to the council on January 24.
One vital organization which supported the motion is the Barrie Arts Alliance (BAA), a group for arts and culture advocates in the city.
BAA had three representatives who helped the task force develop the new PAC. With the help of the alliance, the task force conducted loads of research about performing arts in the country.
In a recent interview
, BAA members underscored the need for a PAC in Barrie.
Scott Boyer, a member of King Edward Choir and Skyliners Big Band, said the PAC would serve as a significant economic driver for downtown Barrie. He added that the centre would help establish Barrie as a diverse, healthy, and progressive city to reside in.
Chrissy Baxter, executive director of Simcoe Contemporary Dancers, said the arts centre could function as an entertainment hub for Barrie residents. She said it would create opportunities to hold exciting activities and events.
The planned PAC will replace the W.A. Fisher Auditorium and Georgian Theatre. Located in the oldest school in Simcoe County, the auditorium closed after a final concert in 2016.
From 2017 to 2020, researchers worked to prove a business case for a PAC in Barrie. They developed preliminary design concepts based on the foundation of the old auditorium. The researchers have since determined that demolishing the establishment will allow for the best use of the site.