New library, deCoste part of cultural hub concept

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PICTOU — Work on a cultural hub that will include a renovated deCoste Performing Arts Centre and a new library could start in the fall of 2020.

About 60 people who attended a public presentation of the cultural hub proposal last week were able to view conceptual designs of the complex from its Water Street and harbour sides as well as from overhead and hear a joint presentation by chief librarian Eric Stackhouse on behalf of the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library (PARL) and deCoste centre executive director Troy Greencorn.

Greencorn shared a business plan showing the project’s $6.95-million cost and the assorted revenue streams to pay for it.

“Now that we have a business plan, we’re over the hump,” he said. “We believe the project is absolutely doable.”

Greencorn said the project requires funding of $2.7 million each from the federal/provincial infrastructure program and $500,000 from ACOA, as well as $550,000 in municipal funding. The local investment in the capital costs of the new facility is just over $1 million.

He referred to a proposed $700,000 endowment fund that will be raised to cut operating costs by nearly half its estimated $76,000. That would leave the county and Pictou to each pay half of the remaining $41,556.

The total local contribution to the project is $1.7 million, including the capital costs and endowment fund.

“For both organizations, a strategic investment in infrastructure is a key to sustaining success and growth,” he said. “I can’t think of a better partnership than with the library.”

Greencorn said deCoste centre membership has grown from 400 to 900 in five years and annual sales of deCoste produced shows are are three times the $100,000 they were six years ago. But the organization wants to draw more people to the facility.

“We’re looking at who’s not in our seats,” he said, “and trying to eliminate barriers,” citing lack of transportation, age/isolation, physical challenge and income as some of the barriers to be overcome.

Stackhouse described how libraries have morphed into community gathering places where people can read, access information, bring their kids or just hang out. He said the interactive design of the new library and renovated centre will utilize the shared space for different purposes and cut capital and operating costs.

“The whole is going to be greater than the sum of its parts,” he said.

From left: Robert Snow and Gary Nowlan view overhead design of the cultural combining a new library and a refurbished deCoste Entertainment Centre. (Goodwin photo)