Election call extends concert hall funding deadline

By Roberta Rosa

A local arts group has extended to March a self-imposed deadline to raise millions od dollars for a concert hall on Elgin Street.

The Ottawa Chamber Music Society must raise $27.6 million for the project to go ahead. The money was to come from grants from the federal and provincial governments, the City of Ottawa, as well as private donations.

The city has pledged $6.1 million. The society is now awaiting requests for $6.5 million each from the provincial and federal governments.

But the federal money for the project didn’t materialize before the government fell last month.

“Nothing will happen until they form the new government, but we are confident,” says Julian Armour, the society’s artistic and executive director.

Armour had originally set a Dec. 31 deadline for funding. If appropriate funding was not forthcoming by that time, Armour has said he was prepared to scrap the project.The deadline now is March.

“Originally the project was going to start in April, but now is expected for the fall,” says Armour.

The society has its own fundraising goal of $8.5 million,and has already received more than $1 million from private sources. It is confident about raising the remainder.

The community is supporting the cause by sending letters to the government emphasizing the need for the money. “They are getting lots of letters,” says Armour.

Members from the music society will meet Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and provincial Culture Minister, Madeleine Meilleur this month.

“The minister of culture offered to meet the society,” says Armour. “I’m not sure we can get the money, but I’m very positive.”

He added that getting government funding is a long process.

The concert hall would be located at 150 Elgin Street and will have one main stage with 925 seats and a 350-seat stage in First Baptist Church.

It is designed to host radio and television broadcasts, webcasts, CD and DVD recordings, and showcase all types of music and festivals such as Bluesfest and the Ottawa jazz festival.