Having a dedicated space where people can discover, create and share art is crucial to having a creative, connected and happy community.
The City of Mount Pearl has made a major investment that will benefit the public and arts and heritage groups in the city, and beyond.
The Annex (located along Old Placentia Road) was recently renovated by the city on behalf of the Admiralty House Museum and the Association for the Arts in Mount Pearl (AAMP), who jointly run the space. The building contains a classroom that seats 16-20, as well as an exhibit hall/performance space (28×38 feet) with a fully programmable lighting system.
The project was over a decade in the making and represents “a significant investment in arts and heritage by the city,” says Christine Hennebury, founder and co-chair of the AAMP. When the AAMP formed in 2005, one of their primary goals was to obtain arts space in the city.
“We partnered with the city and with Admiralty House, and with the Mount Pearl Library, to offer events of all sorts in the meantime, but it was a challenge to find a good space that would match our needs on a more permanent basis. Meanwhile, Admiralty House Museum was seeking additional space to host travelling exhibits and events that complement or enhance their main interpretation storyline,” Hennebury says.
“We decided to roll both groups’ goals into one and, a few years ago, we broached the idea that the city could renovate the storage building on the Admiralty House property and we could share the space.”
The renovation (a total of $833,417.33) was a 70/30 cost-shared project, with the province picking up 70 per cent. Construction began last spring and the building opened (unofficially) this past February. The impact of this project and partnership will be profound.
“Having a focal point for arts activities, a place where people know they can seek out the arts, is a giant leap forward for us,” Hennebury says.
“And it will give AAMP and Admiralty House room to operate in the space where the arts and history meet so we can connect people to their creativity and their heritage at the same time.”
Both the Admiralty House and AAMP have programming plans for the building and while it’s not a rental facility per se, Hennebury says, they are open to partnerships with individuals and arts or heritage groups who have ideas for events and activities.
“We have a lot of skilled artists who would like to share their skills but the costs of renting space to hold a class is prohibitive so they just don’t. We’d like to partner with some artists so they can use our space, and we can have a sliding scale rental fee or negotiate some other arrangement. We’re working on the specific details of how that could work at the moment,” Hennebury says.
“Even though we are the Association for the Arts in ‘Mount Pearl,’ that doesn’t mean that we are only working with Mount Pearl artists,” she adds. “Our mandate is to organize and promote arts-related activities in Mount Pearl, the artists themselves can be from anywhere… and, of course, we welcome anyone to participate in our programming.”
Hennebury says they are grateful to the city for their investment.
“This brings greater ease to our operations over all and gives us room to explore how to bring creative activities to even more people,” she says.
“We’re really excited about what this means for our organization and for our city. The Annex gives the arts a home, and it gives us room to grow, and it lets us go deeply into our mandate to meet the needs of people in our community – artists and the general public.”