Our plan is for the Qu’Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts to house year-round arts and cultural activities, including a gallery, arts instruction, smaller-scale performances, and possibly to bring back to the Valley a Summer School of the Arts. This will highlight the rich heritage of First Nations, Métis and Settler arts and culture in the Valley. It will further enhance the Fort Qu’Appelle area as a tourist destination, to the benefit of the local community and economy.
Fort Qu’Appelle’s Old Central School turned one hundred in 2011. It is in magnificent shape and yet was at risk of being demolished due to having no reuse plan. There was a groundswell of community support to save the school as an historic community landmark. As a result, the Town has declared Old Central a heritage building and has recently signed a long-term lease with Qu’Appelle Valley Centre for the Arts Inc. to operate it as a Centre for the Arts.
The four main rooms have been refurbished and are ready for use. The outside walls were insulated, all the walls and ceilings have been painted, and the floors refurbished in various ways.
Still to be done is the basement Pottery Studio and outside access to it. Plans are underway for refurbishing and renewing this space so that an active pottery studio will be available for use by summer.
A Heritage Conservation Grant from the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation was obtained for exterior restoration of Old Central School. These included new fascia, soffit and flashing repairs; painting soffits, bell tower woodwork and all exterior doors; and installing eaves troughs to match the historic profile. Repairs to deteriorating and vandalized brickwork were also completed through this grant.
Restoring the unique architecture and upgrading the inner building for an Centre of the Arts is our way of honouring those who came before; those who in 1911 ensured such a high standard of architecture, engineering, and materials that we still have a sound and solid building to work with today.
The Capital Improvements
A donation of almost $10,000 from Conexus Credit Union has allowed us to build a deck to make the building wheel chair accessible. Some railings have been installed with the rest to come soon.
A $50,000 provincial Community Initiatives Fund (CIF) grant was procured to help cover the costs of upgrading the infrastructure, including a major insulation retrofit to reduce energy use. This was a matching grant which means that through monetary donations and donations of volunteer hours of work, a matching $50,000 needed to be raised, which was done. Much thanks to all who volunteered their hours of time and hard work, and to those who donated financially as well. We couldn’t have done it without all of you!!