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Governance of Yarmouth's proposed arts & culture centre discussed

Recommendation for a draft board of governance model to be presented later this spring


A law firm’s senior partner, with two decades of governance work experience, facilitated a session on the topic at a public meeting for Yarmouth’s proposed arts and culture centre on April 10 at the Rodd Grand Hotel.

“We like to do public consultations when we’re getting an introductory governance model for a new proposed organization,” said Cheryl Hodder, with McInnes Cooper law firm.

“We think it’s vitally important to get the input of the community.”

During the meeting, round-table discussions followed the presentation of

questions pertaining to what the proposed arts and culture centre’s board and structure might look like.

 “The more information we gather from you this evening about the good things, the challenges and getting your thoughts, all that will really give us a lot of great information when we are formulating our recommendations for the steering committee to consider,” said Hodder.

The first question dealt with what role the

new arts & culture centre should play in community life.

A representative from the group that was assigned the question presented what was discussed. One of the most important roles for the new centre, it was said, should be to increase the number and diversity of people living downtown over the next 20 years. Strengthening and improving events for residents and guests was also mentioned.

When participants were questioned as to what qualities the board of directors should reflect, attributes included: diverse skills and competencies, including business management, marketing/fundraising and leadership. Diversity of cultural backgrounds and transparency were cited as important as well.

Another question concerned the demographics of the region and its cultures. Which ones should the board of directors reflect?

Participants chose three: the Acadia First Nation, Acadian community and the African Nova Scotian community.

Lastly, participants were asked if they knew of any barriers or impediments that might impact the success of the new arts and culture centre project with respect to governance or otherwise.

The group answer was that the big concern was areas where community support has eroded. There’s been a lot of talk about competition between the sports community and arts community. There are concerns about competition for funding and volunteers once a facility is built. The possible disruption to downtown businesses around the site during the construction phase also was raised.

Hodder concluded the evening by saying there was a lot of enthusiasm for the project and that it was going to cost a lot of money.

“It’s going to require investment from all three levels of government and individual donors.”

She stressed the need for building a good business case so that people would support it.

“There’s a good history in this area for that,” she added, referring to the hospital and the Mariners Centre.

She said that, generally, everything her firm heard about the proposed project was cautiously optimistic. Every one of the neighbouring municipalities must be on side, she cautioned, adding that there probably isn’t enough room or population for competing arts centres in an area of this size.

“To really capitalize on this gateway and hub idea, you’re really going to have to have something that’s central.”

MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects is now working on putting the data they’ve collected through past public participation sessions together for a Class D construction estimate. This will provide a “lower ballpark” estimate for what the proposed arts and culture centre would cost.

A market analysis, trend analysis and economic impact analysis are now underway, along with the development of a spreadsheet for operational costs, expense costs and revenue.

In May all of the data will have been received and a final draft will be prepared and presented to the public for review.

Some areas may be refined.

Representatives from McInnes Cooper will be returning to present a recommendation for a draft board of governance model later this spring.

How to participate

A public survey is now underway concerning the values and ambitions of the proposed arts and culture project:

A survey involving board governance framework design is also underway:

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