Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) hopes to give the former Landmark Cinemas in downtown Fort McMurray a second act by turning it into a place for creativity, performance and arts.
On Wednesday, ACWB announced it is interested in purchasing the property, which hit the market in August 2018 when Landmark Cinemas opened its new theatre in Eagle Ridge.
If ACWB purchases the Manning Avenue property, it will be turned into an “arts incubator,” which the organization describes as a space for artists to work and gather.
It would also be a venue open to the community for performances, workshops, showcases, events and festivals.
The space would also support arts programs in Wood Buffalo’s rural and Indigenous communities.
ACWB’s leadership also points out the building is in a section of the city the RMWB hopes to redevelop.
“Findings from the municipal government’s public engagement has shown that this area is ideal for arts and cultural space as well as economic development,” states a message on ACWB’s website.
Examples of arts incubators include Calgary’s cSPACE King Edward and the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design.
Liana Wheeldon, ACWB’s executive director, says the organization has worked with Akron Engineering on the costs and logistics of turning an abandoned cinema into an arts space.
“Now we’re ready to engage with the public to get feedback on the project and evaluate the benefits for everyone in our region,” she said in a statement.
Until Oct. 6, ACWB is surveying the surveying the public on what the incubator’s priorities should be.
Funding for the feasibility study comes from a grant through the federal government’s Investment Readiness Program.
If the centre proceeds, ACWB plans to apply for grants from provincial, federal and private entities. Municipal council has not been asked for any funding, but ACWB has not ruled the option out in the future.