Community arts groups have been working on turning one of the city’s historic churches into a live music and events venue.
The Community Arts Council of Prince George & District (CAC) and Trinity United Church have been working over the summer on initial plans to redevelop Trinity Downtown (formerly Knox United Church) into a performance venue.
The concert hall would be known as the Knox Bell Performance Space.
Knox United Church is the oldest Protestant church in town with significant historical importance renowned for its heritage architecture.
CAC says because of its acoustical superiority, and full-time availability in a central location, expanding its purpose as a performance venue has the potential to make an outstanding contribution to downtown revitalization as well as becoming a major addition to the community’s cultural facilities ecosystem.
CAC and Trinity United have their sights set on an ambitious plan around renovations and upgrades to create a top-notch affordable space for the city and surrounding area performing arts community.
To this effect, CAC has applied for funding to the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, a program offered by the Canadian Ministry of Heritage, to assist with the development of a planning project for revitalizing the space.
It will include a review of design, engineering and architectural options, programming streams, conceptual plans for redesign, capital improvement budgets and management structures.
“The need for a mid-sized music and event venue located in the downtown core was strongly identified during the early planning stages for our new Creative Hub”, says Sean Farrell, CAC Executive Director.
“And with the pressing need for new arts spaces being continuously and vocally expressed, especially in the last six months, we believe that we are offering a unique partnership and opportunity to revitalize a much-beloved heritage space into a first-class venue that can serve a wide range of emerging and professional performers.”
In addition to the facility being leveraged as a performance and events venue, the two organizations are further exploring integrating recording, green screen production, and livestreaming technology as part of the site.
The goal is to provide the best infrastructure possible to support arts and performance groups to connect and engage with their audiences.
“Trinity United Church has a long history of engaging the community in ways that reach beyond Sunday morning,” says Rev. Dr. Bob K Fillier.
“This is an opportunity to animate the space and renew our commitment to downtown Prince George, while strengthening and expanding our partnerships in the community. It’s about faith in action and the power of the performing arts to enrich and transform lives. The arts have always been part of who we are and a cornerstone for a vibrant and healthy community.”
A site tour and group meeting with many of Prince George’s performing arts community members is being planned for October, in order to gather initial feedback on the space and to serve as a kick-off for future site needs planning sessions, once funding is confirmed for the project.
“We are so excited by the opportunities that will come with a potential partnership with the CAC to turn our downtown campus into a vibrant new cultural space that will help us live out our core values and serve the community for years to come and sustain the legacy of the Knox site as being a centerpiece of downtown life,” added Fillier.