Construction set to start on Sudbury's downtown bilingual arts centre: After years of planning and fundraising, Place des Arts will be hub of city's francophone community.

Author:McKinley, Karen

Years of work to build a bilingual arts space in the heart of Sudbury is going to become a reality as shovels are set to go into the ground.

Place des Arts is scheduled to start construction this summer, after securing public funding and awarding the design and build contract to two architecture firms last fall, as well as a successful ongoing capital fundraising campaign.

Martin Lajeunesse, treasurer for Place des Arts, said the entire board is very pleased with how the project has come together over the years and excitement is building over the groundbreaking.

"I can't be more specific right now, as we are working with the city to approve permits and going over the site plan, and the early final stages of design," he said. "The designers are on board. Once the design is finalized, we will be going to tender for the construction."

Because they are at the final phases, there are no new images or conceptual designs to be released to the public. All photos currently on the website are from the feasibility study, which was completed in 2015 with arts and business consultants, engineering firms and an architectural firm to confirm the business case. They are hoping to have new images to show the public in the coming weeks.

"Now that we have the architectural firm finalized, we hope to have sketches of what the building will actually look like," Lajeunesse said.

The future building, which will be located in a prime location in the city's downtown, will be the epicentre of the city's arts scene, Lajeunesse said.

It will be home to a multi-functional studio, production facilities, offices, a gift shop, and a bistro, as well as storage space. It will also be the Northern headquarters for several companies, including Carrefour Francophone de Sudbury, La Theatre du Nouvel-Ontario, GNO and La Nuit Sur L'etang.

All services will be offered in both English and French.

This is a community-led initiative, Lajeunesse said, which came out of consultations in the late-2000s. There was a need expressed then to have a gathering place that would serve a broad range of stakeholders from across all facets of the arts community.

"It is our mandate to support the arts of Northern Ontario. We are...

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