Steinbach Arts Council’s Executive Director is excited that after five years of renovations using $155,000 in grants, the Arts Centre looks amazing, with money left-over for future projects.
David Klassen explains where the funds came from to do the renos.
"In 2018, we received a grant, our Co-op community Spaces grant in the amount of $65,000. It was also matched by the city of Steinbach, so we had a good amount of money to put into our building and to improve our space."
Klassen lists some of work they were able to do included the outdoor Community Spaces Park on the northwest side of the building.
“We also had some funding to reconfigure some spaces, like our music studios, our administrative space. We did a small amount of cleanup. Mostly we changed the paint and upgraded some desks for staff.”
Klassen continues, “And then we were able to invest a majority of that funding into the hall gallery renovation, and bathrooms. The bathrooms in our building were many decades old and they needed a good amount of work, and we all know where water is, so is the money. And so, the toilets and the sinks and all of that plumbing needed to be upgraded, and it was high time.”
Klassen notes the kitchen was renovated using the last part of the Co-op Community Spaces Grant.
“We really wanted to make sure that we had a space, here in the centre, that could facilitate some really good quality teaching in the culinary arts program. And we were able to just now complete the kitchen project.”
He says they put in new flooring, new countertops, new sinks and faucets, and a kitchen island.
“The island now offers us a good amount of storage space, which we are always short on, so that kitchen has really become the heart of our home in many ways, as it is in our own homes. We find that people want to gather in that space. They want to be in that space. It's a place where the staff is connecting. It also acts as their staff room.”
Klassen says their newly renovated kitchen will be used in many ways.
“And the most exciting for us is that we have been able to restore our culinary arts programming post pandemic. So, we have kids and youth and we’re now developing those programs to include adults coming into our home, coming into our kitchen and learning some skills.”
The Executive Director notes they received another grant this year from the Arts, Culture and Sport in Community Fund.
"That was a grant for $25,000. It was exciting to receive that money, as we finished our Co-op Community Spaces Partnership Grant and were then able to receive a little more funding, which helped us to finish the upstairs renovation.”
Klassen says, the Steinbach Arts Centre has been in the former Kornelson School for almost 30 years, and with the latest grant were able to make some necessary upgrades in the lower level.
“So, our basement was renovated in the early 2000s when we took over the space originally, and it needed a little work again. As time moves on, the space shows its age and so does the renovation. And so, what we were able to do was to invest in proper storage for some of our musical instruments that we use to teach our After-School Arts Programming. It was important that those instruments were housed in a place that kept them safe and kept them protected from some of the elements that might even be evident in a basement space with cooler temperatures.”
Klassen continues talking about refreshing the basement studios with a fresh coat of paint and new lighting, and new shelving in their pottery room.
“So, one of the things about our pottery space is that it is very small, and we teach a lot of people in that space. However, there was so much storage in the middle of the room on the floor, that we really needed move some storage up on the walls and take some of those tools and boxes of clay and molds that we would use to teach, off the ground.”
Klassen says that with less items on the floor they are now able to offer the class to individuals with accessibility issues.
There are a few more spaces that still need some attention, the reception desk in the Steinbach Arts Council main office is one of them.
"The new desk which will help us to maximize the space for workstations. Right now, our reception desk is very large, and it takes up more space than it needs to, and we have a solid staff that also needs space to work. So, that's one of our plans.”
“And lastly we need to try and reconfigure some upper-level spaces that will help us to increase the number of classes that we can teach by creating separation between rooms that don't require people to pass through, from one room to the other another.”
“These are all changes we can make based on the square footage that we have. We are trying to squeeze every possible minute of instruction-time out of the rooms that we are using, and really offer people a beautiful, clean space to work in, to learn and to develop their skills.”
Though Klassen is grateful for the grants and funding, and the space within which to offer so many different programs for individuals of all ages, it’s also about creating a space where they can focus and be creative and not distracted. He says, while they are doing all they can with the space they have,
“It doesn't though add square footage to the footprint that we are working with. And so, in terms of the number of classes that we can run, if we do some reconfiguring, we can squeeze a few more minutes in the week to teach a class or two, but it doesn't really allow for larger class numbers, because we're stuck within the room size that we have.”
“So, if the room only allows for 12 dance students in a dance class, no matter how beautiful, that's space is you can't teach more kids the skill. So, we are still trying to maximize the use of our space to the best of our ability, and we think that we're pretty much there. There's not a whole lot more that we can do in the evenings in our building, but we don't have the ability right now to expand our footprint. And that is something that we're always considering and hoping that one day, Yes, we will have more space to do that teaching in our centre, and we will take advantage of it as soon as that opportunity presents itself.”
“We also know that in this moment, we're lucky to have the space that we have. And so, we continue to grow our programs, and to show the community that the work that we're doing is important, and people are walking away changed and better for the learning that they've done here in our centre. And of course, this doesn't speak at all to the concert portion of our centre.”
“But we're here and we're focusing on growth, and really pouring into the community as best we can with what we have.”
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