Corner Brook arts hub in former bank to offer collaborative community space
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CORNER BROOK, NL – It was a bank and later a cannabis retail store, and now 62 Broadway at Corner Brook is in the process of taking on another identity as an arts center.
“For me, it’s about community building and community development,” said Nigel Jenkins, the building’s new owner.
Jenkins, an artist manager and record label owner, founded Laughing Heart Music (LHM) Limited in Halifax and moved to Steady Brook in 2018.
“And for me, becoming a larger part or more active member and participant in the arts community across the region is a motivating factor,” he said of his plans for the arts center.
“I’d love to see Broadway have the kind of revival that West Street has had in the last five years, and I’d love to be able to do that with what we’re trying to do here with to make a small contribution to the art center.”
He readily admits that his plan is a little selfish, as he is sure the hub will create opportunities for his own business. Jenkins hopes to meet people from the visual arts and film industries to work with.
The idea for the arts center came about when he was looking for a space that would allow him to expand his business and hire more local staff.
He had eyed the old Seven Seas restaurant on West Street because of its location and proximity to the Rotary Arts Center, where many of Jenkins’ represented artists perform. But the numbers didn’t make sense.
“That led me to check out a few other rooms and locations before finally ending up at 62 Broadway.”
Jenkins saw potential in the space for what he had in mind and also for the Rotary Arts Center, which will be a partner in the project and tenant on the ground floor.
The upper level is newly renovated and this is where Jenkins will operate LHM.
“And it works perfectly for the kind of co-working office environments I’ve always wanted in the building.”
His plan is to lease space to other arts entrepreneurs and arts organizations.
“Having the kind of creative minds around working on other creative projects in the city and region to create opportunities for collaboration.”
The foyer serves as a sales area for the items produced in the building.
“The idea is that an artist can come in, they can create on the lower level, they can come upstairs and do their business and meet up, and then they can actually sell their work in front of the room too.”
The approximately 40,000-square-foot lower level of the Rotary Arts Center will function as a multidisciplinary arts space. There won’t be a live performance space like City Hall, but Jenkins said some visual arts and other presentations, like readings, could very well be held there.
“The intention is not to compete with the existing Rotary Arts Center venues. Just to enhance the suite of services and rooms they currently have.”
David Smallwood is CEO of the Rotary Arts Center.
He and Jenkins work together quite a bit when it comes to the bands Jenkins represents and both serve on the board of Music NL.
The art center needed space
When Jenkins told Smallwood about his plans, he asked if the center needed space.
“At the same time, I was muttering to my board that we didn’t have enough space here at City Hall to do some of the things we wanted to do, particularly in the visual arts space,” Smallwood said
So the center came on board as a partner in the hub.
Smallwood said the space will be known as RAC Creative. Plans for the space are in the early stages of development, but Smallwood said it will be a creative hub, complete with tools and gadgets accessible to the public.
There will be an audiovisual recording room, an instrument library, a place to make pottery, space for a loom for weaving fabrics and for quilting, artists’ studios like in City Hall, and a wet room for painting and no worries about getting it on the floor.
“We are excited. I think it’s necessary and appreciated by the community,” Smallwood said.
Now all that is needed is the funding to make it all happen, and in the new year the Rotary Arts Center will work to submit grant applications to ArtsNL and other government agencies such as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
The facility plans to open by fall 2023, but Jenkins said it could be sooner.