Residents get a look at proposed performing arts centre

·2 min read
A new performing arts centre in Fredericton could open as soon as 2026. (Fredericton's New Performing Arts Centre - image credit)
A new performing arts centre in Fredericton could open as soon as 2026. (Fredericton's New Performing Arts Centre - image credit)

Fredericton residents are getting an opportunity to give input on a new performing arts centre proposed for the city.

The centre, to be located at the corner of King and Regent streets, could open as soon as 2026. It will feature two performance spaces.

The group behind the centre initiative includes the Fredericton Playhouse and the city. It held an open house Sunday, and another is scheduled for Tuesday, for residents to get a look at what the facility could look like and to provide feedback.

"We've had a great chance to talk with a lot of folks," said Gary McCluskie, one of the architects behind the project.

"One of the great things is meeting people and hearing their thoughts of … what they're hoping the facility can achieve. That's wonderful to hear."

First impressions

McCluskie said the centre is meant to make an impression on people walking through the downtown.

"Corner buildings, I think, always sort of pose that opportunity as well … you've got two sides of the building," he said.

"They certainly want everybody to know where they are in the community."

Still, the design does have some user elements in mind.

Fredericton's New Performing Arts Centre
Fredericton's New Performing Arts Centre

The centre will be set back from the street to allow for an overhang to be built over the entrances and box office.

"We have a little bit of a weather connection," said McCluskie.

"Arriving at the facility, [if there's] inclement weather, you can just sort of step in underneath the building along Regent Street and as you come around onto King Street."

Jeff Thompson, a Fredericton resident who attended Sunday's open house, said it was nice to see a fresh take on the performing arts centre that will replace the aging playhouse.

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"The one that was built way back in the day I'm sure it was very fresh and modern in its time and era," said Thompson.

"I'm really encouraged by the design. It's nice and clean."

Thompson said he's happy to see the centre will include two performance spaces, a main auditorium that will fit 850 people and a smaller one that's modular and can be set up for between 100-300 people.

Blending in and standing out

While the building will stand out in the downtown, materials common to the neighbourhood like red brick will be incorporated to make sure there is a bit of blending as well.

The highlight will be the facade. It is meant to evoke memories of the performing arts and the downtown.

"We were hoping the architecture might have a bit of an allusion to that idea of the rippling surface of the river," said McCluskie.

"Another image that I think we have in our minds … is curtain, and that sort of idea of the presentation of a theatre space and that of the theatrical curtain."

Funding has been approved and construction could begin this fall.