Letters to the Editor

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Blind item: City withdrawal of RFP for Playhouse demolition

A source just sent this to The Purple Violet Press regarding a Request for Proposal recently withdrawn by the City of Fredericton to demolish the Playhouse:

There was a front-page article in The Gleaner on Saturday March 17: "City seeks replacement options for Playhouse".

Seemingly out of nowhere, this spin started about the Playhouse not being an adequate venue, and the Playhouse and the City issued a public proposal call for a new performing arts centre in Fredericton. 
In the article, mention was made of a 2007 study (the city paid 50% of the costs) of the Playhouse by Novita, which "determined the Playhouse at the end of its useful life and a major refurbishment or renovation would be required to extend its vitality". This after the Playhouse not too long ago underwent a major facelift, and large donations were given (there is a huge list of donors listed in the hallway of the Playhouse). The old Courthouse was mentioned as a possible site (a heritage building--how would that work, were they wanting to demolish it. If they were going to renovate it they may as well renovate the Playhouse) As usual they always try to sell the idea that demolition and a completely new building is cheaper than renovating (they tried that with the old Hart shoe factory)

There was a very poorly advertised workshop held last week by the Federation of Canadian of Municipalities (FCM), with an eye to the upcoming sesque-centennial for Canada in 2017. Only 9 people attended and were asked what they would see as a good arts and culture/ heritage project. Apparently Tim Yerxa of the Playhouse was there and talked about this 'need' for a new performing arts centre. Some other ideas were thrown around: finally building a walking bridge across the old bridge posts between the Pedway and the Northside. That bridge could incorporate art projects (something like a walking art gallery, or whatever). That would actually add something to our downtown instead of a costly replacement of something.

Of course again no public consultation and a deadline was mentioned for the RFP: April 27, 2012--no time for anyone who would just find out about it. Great for the old boys club!

There must have been some heat after that article in the Gleaner, and they must have realized that it would be an election issue in the upcoming municipal election. (or maybe there were a bunch of angry influential donors?)