A downtown Toronto arts centre is scrambling to replace several thousands of dollars worth of musical instruments after staff say thieves recently broke in.
“It’s shocking the way they had cleaned this place out because they had obviously taken their time and made several trips even,” Glen Loucks, assistant director of the Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre, told Global News Wednesday evening.
“We’re a charity. We provide affordable, sometimes free, music lessons to the community. We’ve been here 40 years doing that and for people to come in and take our instruments is quite horrendous.”
Loucks said a teacher came to the Parliament Street centre on Tuesday and found a south-facing door open. He said 20 classical, acoustic and electric guitars were stolen along with sound equipment and amplifiers.
The Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre, which is celebrating its 40th year in operation, offers structured, half-hour, one-on-one lessons to students. The students can learn piano, guitar, drums, violin or vocals.
“The kids have a home here. We’re really diverse here and it’s a total reflection of the community,” Loucks said.
“We believe music should be an integral part of every child’s upbringing, whether or not they pursue it later on in life or not. We believe children benefit from exposure to music.”
Despite the thefts, Loucks said there has been a silver lining — a “heartwarming” community response.
“It just makes us stronger,” he said.
“People have been phoning in to donate their instruments. We had a guy call from Guelph who was going to come in and bring in his guitar that he hasn’t played for 20 years.”
Loucks said the centre hopes to replace all the instruments by the beginning of the school year in September and in time for the 40th anniversary celebration on Sept. 8.
A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign was recently launched to support the centre. Loucks said the money raised will go toward new instruments. As of Wednesday evening, it raised just over $2,600 of its $20,000 goal.
Loucks also said the centre is looking for classical guitars as steel-string guitars are harder for younger children to use.