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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Khyber and the city: public consultation!

2 consultations wednesday, December 10 from 1pm-3pm and 6:30-8:30 at the Bloomfield Centre.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 26, 2009 at 4:11 PM

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It's no secret that the Khyber ICA and HRM have endured a rocky relationship, but today feels like the beginning of a whole new love affair, or the most passive-aggressive Sid and Nancy-style punch-up around.

Today, And Still Counting an exhibition of paintings by Garry Neill Kennedy, in collaboration with the Khyber, opens at City Hall. You might remember his numbered paintings, which played on city landmarks and politics, that lived in the windows of the Khyber building last spring during renovations.

Is it a coincidence that on the day of the exhibition opening, the city released a draft report on the potential operating scenarios for the Khyber building? Prepared by the Toronto consultants, TCI Management, you can take a look for yourself at http://www.halifax.ca/crca/FeasibilityReport.html. Copies are also available at the Bloomfield Centre, the Khyber or by calling 490-4083.

Admittedly all those numbers and scenarios are going to take awhile to digest—-the biggest restoration and construction expense is the inclusion of an elevator for accessibility purposes—-but the one positive thing I took was that the majority of people interviewed for the report are united in thinking that the building is under-utilized and should be maintained somehow for cultural purposes.

But I do have to wonder about the page-sized, full-colour photos selected for the report: a small cluttered storage area, the well-worn staircase, a grotty wall streaked with graffiti (I have no clue even where this is). Where are the photos of the Ballroom Gallery and those gorgeous mouldings? Of crowds of people participating in concerts, art performances and openings? How about art? If I had never been in this building, and this was all the visual evidence I received, I’m not sure that I’d be as interested in preserving the space as an arts centre.

So now it's your turn to get involved. Read the document then take part in public information sessions on December 9 (1-3pm or 6:30pm-8:30pm) at the Bloomfield Centre. Results from these public sessions will feed into the consultants' final report and recommendations to council, so if you care anything about culture, heritage, or the future of Barrington Street, read and participate.

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