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Indefinite Arts Centre continues funding fight for new home

Click to play video: 'What the future holds for Calgary’s Indefinite Arts Centre' What the future holds for Calgary’s Indefinite Arts Centre
WATCH: Calgary's Indefinite Arts Centre is pushing ahead with a big vision despite not getting the provincial funding it was hoping for in Alberta’s 2020 budget. Doug Vaessen has details. – Mar 3, 2020

The Indefinite Arts Centre may be down but it’s far from done in its quest to finance a new building.

Chief executive Jung-Suk Ryu says it stung when the Alberta government declined to approve financing through the Investment for Canadian Infrastructure Program.

“I must say it’s a little bit disappointing to not see this project move forward right at this moment,” Ryu said. “I understand that these things take a little bit of time. So really it’s about assessing what our next steps are going to be, and hopefully getting all of our partners back at the table.”

READ MORE: Fairview Arena roof collapse allows for bigger future plans for arts group

Indefinite Arts originally requested $7.5 million from the province to finance a $21.5-million facility that would be comprised of three main components:

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  • An expanded visual arts centre that would allow space to include the 100 artists currently on a waiting list; introduce a digital literacy program; and rent studio space to non-disabled artist to help fund operational costs.
  • A social enterprise centre that would include a restaurant to serve the community and focus on employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities; along with a larger craft and art gallery and a framing shop.
  • A multi-use theatre that would be used for performing arts and provide community gathering communities.

“I think our partners need to realize that this is not a frill, that this is absolutely an essential program that is completely innovative in providing level of supports for people with disabilities that is completely unique to Calgary and Alberta,” Ryu said.

“As much as our government would like to endorse every worthwhile initiative, there were 700 applicants for ICIP funding and we had to make a number of difficult decisions,” said Hadyn Place, a spokesperson for the minister of infrastructure.

“Over 70 applications have been endorsed and we are hopeful that the federal government will get money out the door quickly for these shovel-ready projects.”

The current building is almost 60 years old and was damaged when the roof of adjoining Fairview Arena collapsed in February 2018.

WATCH BELOW: (Feb. 21, 2018) Fairview Arena roof collapses

Click to play video: 'Fairview Arena roof collapses' Fairview Arena roof collapses
Fairview Arena roof collapses – Feb 21, 2018

Indefinite Arts, home to 300 artists, was forced to evacuate for six months. The negative impacts continue to this day, especially financially, Ryu said.

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”We have seen our insurance rates skyrocket because we are deemed to be a high-risk facility. Day to day, we are seeing exposed utility rooms, shared structural components with the former arena, and an exposed interior wall that is now adding to our utility cost. The list goes on and on.”

Ryu said talks have already resumed with the province through Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney as Indefinite Arts tries to forge a new path to achieving its goal.

The project has been revised and $2 million for outdoor enhancements has been trimmed from the project.

The current $19.5-million dollar project would be split this way:

  • $5.0M – Government of Alberta Ministry of Community and Social Services
  • $5.0M – Government of Canada
  • $2.5M – City of Calgary
  • $5.0M – Private Donations
  • $2M – Calgary Foundation

Ryu said it’s still early days for a project of this size and he is hopeful that next year, the province will be in a better position to say yes and help generate the momentum the Indefinite Arts Centre needs to continue providing a valuable service.

“When we provide people with disabilities that creative platform to share their thoughts and communicate and showcase their creativity, we are seeing increased levels of confidence, increased communication skills that in turn allow them to be better-engaged members in our community,” Ryu said.

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“I think that’s absolutely invaluable in the life of someone with a developmental disability, to be able to provide them with that opportunity.”

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