Preserve the Conservatory | Music | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Preserve the Conservatory

Could the Maritime Conservatory of the Performing Arts be the next building to fall?

Preserve the Conservatory
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The Conservatory has taught music students from its Chebucto Road location since 1997.

A n internal dispute at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts could force a move out of the aging epochal building the educational society has called home since 1997. Resting between the Ummah mosque at the top of Charles Street, and the Maritime Muslim Academy on Chebucto Road, sits the seasoned but graceful building: Home to hundreds of students, and dozens of teachers.

Word has been spreading that the Conservatory's board is in talks with local developer Danny Chedrawe of Westwood Developments Limited.

A petition with 3,300 signees at press time says the deal, reportedly in talks, would see the Conservatory moved out of its current home at 6199 Chebucto and into one of Chedrawe's new buildings on Almon Street.

The petition reads: "Rental of the new space is estimated at $350,000 per year and expensive leasehold improvements would have to be made."

Last week a little piece of white paper posted on the St. Matthias Street entrance read: Exams Today. The Royal Conservatory of Music is just one of many of the building's users, along with extensive dance and music programming serving infants all the way up to seniors.

Conservatory director Ifan Williams led the restoration of the stately Lillian Piercey Concert Hall in the late 1990s, and is loathe to see it destroyed.

"You can't just replace this," he says. "It's the finest acoustical space in the city for concerts."

Williams is troubled by what he considers a lack of transparency from the board. "This really has been going on in secret," he says, adding a sale would spell the end for the building. "It'll be torn down unnecessarily."

Chedrawe did not respond to interview requests.

Board chair William Webster writes that the school is cherished, but in desperate need of repairs. He promises to engage community and faculty: "No decision has been made regarding the future home of the Conservatory."

For his part, Williams says the solution is clear: "The board chair must go."

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