For as long as I can remember, there has been a desire to build a community-based performance art centre in the Langley. In fact, Chief Sepass Theatre at Langley Fine Arts School and the Show Theatre at the Cascades Casino are the only purpose-built theatre spaces in Langley. Unfortunately both these facilities have availability and capacity issues. Other facilities in the Township and City also have major shortcoming. This has resulted in many performance arts groups either using more costly venues in other municipalities or simply closing down.
In early 2013, the City of Langley, Township of Langley, School District, Trinity Western University, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University created a task force to study a performance arts centre for Langley. The task force was mandated to recommend the spatial programming of the performance art space, how it should be managed, and estimate the capital and ongoing operation subsidy required.
The task force commissioned B.E. Beck & Associates to develop a feasibility study which has now been released.
Research in the feasibility study confirmed that there is a strong demand for a performance arts centre in Langley from a user group and audience perspective.
Based on consultation done with potential user groups in the community, B.E. Beck & Associates recommended that a new performance arts centre should have:
-A full 600-650 capacity proscenium theatre
-A 200 seat flexible, flat floor studio theatre
-Public space including a lobby, café, gift shop, art gallery, and kitchen
-Seven multi-use studios and meeting rooms
-Support space for performers and for facility operations.
The estimated capital cost of the performance art centre could range from $30 million to $40 million. It would need an ongoing operation subsidy of about $140,000. B.E. Beck & Associates also recommend a governance and operating model which you can read about in the feasibility study.
When it comes to the location of the facility, stakeholders noted that it needs to have good vehicular and public transit access. There is no recommendation for the actual location of the facility.
One of the things that really blew me away was that B.E. Beck & Associates recommended a 142,800 square foot, 420 space surface parking lot. This is for a 40,000 square foot performance arts space. The proposed surface parking lot would not support building an accessible, walkable community.
Performance art centres have different peak parking time then shops, restaurants, and offices. It would make the most sense to locate a performance art centre in a place like Downtown Langley where shared parking would be possible. This would remove the need for such a massive surface parking lot. Downtown Langley has good vehicular and transit access. Putting the performance art centre in a place like Downtown Langley would also promote building an accessible, walkable community. If this centre gets built around a sea of parking, an opportunity to improve our community will have been squandered.
The B.E. Beck & Associates feasibility study is just the first of many steps to getting a performance arts centre built in Langley. It will now be up to City of Langley, Township of Langley, School District, Trinity Western University, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University to figure out the next steps and even if they want to proceed further with investigating building a performance art centre.