Third Avenue Centre (TAC) has submitted a proposal to the congregation to convert the church into a world-class performing arts centre. The University of Saskatchewan has offered to become the anchor tenant in the space if the congregation accepts TAC's proposal. TAC has also now assembled a board of directors composed of recognized leaders who will help guide future operations. The new board includes Jan Baxter-Jones, Dave Denny (Chair), Dr. Ann Doig, Mark Fachada, Angela Kempf, and Ray Penner. Councillor Charlie Clark has agreed to join our board upon winning the RFP. Under the proposal, TAC would lease the premises from the congregation for two years and assume all costs for operating the building, while accommodating the congregation’s continued use of the space for Sunday services and other functions. During that period TAC would assemble the funds to purchase the building for appraised value.
Our key partner will the the University of Saskatchewan, with the College of Arts and Science agreeing to be our new anchor tenant. They make our cash flow positive, and even enable us to contribute funds to a capital reserve for repairs and improvements.
TAC plans to make major improvements to the space including adding new bathrooms, lighting, sound, modified seating, and a new roof. It also plans to add a new large multifunction stage, suitable for a large symphony orchestra, but flexible to be used for drama and dance. We will invite people from symphony, dance, and drama to participate in designing the stage because we envision this facility as Saskatoon’s premier centre for all the performing arts.
We intend this building to be a venue for world class artists, but also an incubator for developing our arts in Saskatoon. Our mission as cultural incubator aligns beautifully with the goals of the U of S, and also with the City’s new Cultural Plan. As a non-profit, TAC will endeavor to provide discounted use of our main stage to local performing groups, which are sometimes under-funded. We also envision using the basement for U of S performing arts classes, with the smaller basement stage used for performances by smaller local developing artists and coffee houses.
The grand, centrally located building is ideally suited as a performance center. It has fantastic acoustics, a wonderful pipe organ, and great sight lines. Moreover, with seating for an audience of about 1000, it is just the right size. This building fills a niche for performances too large for the Broadway Theatre, but needing something more intimate than the much larger TCU Centre. Cities around North America have recognized the need for 1000 seat venues and are building them at a price of $50,000 per seat or more. Ours is already built, and with acoustics and class the new buildings would struggle to match. It makes sense to reuse these grand old central churches instead of building new, which is exactly what other Canadian cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa have already done.
With revenues that already surpass expenses, we can operate even without major capital donations. However, we will need donations to eventually purchase the building and to pay for the new bathrooms, lighting, sound system, and a new flexible stage. We are optimistic because donors appreciate that we are already financially self sustaining. Furthermore, donors appreciate that we are a proven commodity. People already love this heritage building for performances.