The Stratford Arts and Culture Collective was formed in 2016 with the objective of creating an all inclusive venue to serve the arts and culture needs of Stratford and area citizens.
We began by exploring the Grand Trunk Community Hub as a location for the centre, including hosting a Design Charette to explore development possibilities in November 2018.
A CONVERGENCE OF INTERESTS
In December 2018, we were made aware of the need for redevelopment of the historic Knox Presbyterian Church, a heritage building which anchors the east end of the main street in downtown Stratford. As that location could accommodate a large part of our vision, we began to explore the convergence of needs and opportunities shared by the two groups.
After much discussion, the Knox Church option was selected as having the best possibilities to meet the needs of both the SACC and Knox. The SACC continued to work with the Knox Task Force (Building Committee) to achieve success for Knox, and for the creation of an arts and culture centre.
In fall, 2019, the SACC commissioned TCI Management Consultants (Toronto) to conduct a detailed Feasibility Study, with the financial support of the City of Stratford, The Ontario Trillium Foundation and SPARC (Supporting Performing Arts in Rural Communities). The study examined three key questions:
What effects will an Arts and Culture Centre have on the City of Stratford and area?
What is the most appropriate model for the Centre to be developed, owned and operated?
How can the Centre be sustained?
After extensive research, interviews, benchmarking, focus groups, and online surveys, the study was completed on November 30, 2019. The report on the consultants’ findings is positive and supportive of the concept of creating an Arts and Culture Centre for Stratford citizens.
THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC: 2020 – 2022
Through the pandemic brought the world to a halt, the SACC and Knox continued to meet virtually to discuss how the future relationship might evolve. Speculative, conceptual drawings of the site were created, discussed and evaluated. Meetings provided direction to support the ongoing and growing partnership between the two groups, often with the assistance of Trinity Centres Foundation. A developer entered the discussions during the early months of 2022, who made an offer to purchase the site. The offer was accepted by the Knox congregation on March 23, 2022. Read the Media Release here.
The SACC continues to move the project forward on several fronts:
Overseeing extensive renovations of the sanctuary to meet the complex technical requirements of modern-day arts production (e.g., new sound and lighting capacity, seating, air conditioning, etc.)
Acquiring charitable status to support grant applications and fundraising
Developing a strong and diverse founding SACC Board of Directors to guide operations going forward.
Continuing our work as a prime advocate and voice for local arts and culture in consultation with a variety of other organizations