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‘It’s crazy beautiful’: Place des Arts open for business

Staff and board members eager to show off ‘top-notch’ facility to the rest of Sudbury community

Place des Arts is open for business.

Stéphane Gauthier, executive director of Carrefour francophone and past chair of the board for Place des Arts, said more than 20,000 volunteer hours have been put into making the centre a reality, and while there have been a number of challenges along the way, the board is happy to be turning a new chapter.

Place des Arts is billed as Ontario’s first and sole multidisciplinary arts and culture centre.

Place des Arts board president Alain Richard led new media reporter Eden Suh on a tour of the building. You can watch that video below.

The building is a tribute to the past in the way it was designed, to blend with the downtown architectural and historical contexts, said Gauthier. 

“It’s crazy beautiful; what a feeling after 12 years in the making,” said Gauthier, on hand at Place des Arts on April 29 for the grand opening. “It has been a rollercoaster of a ride and a real collaborative effort to bring the idea to reality.”

This idea for Place des Arts came about when the Downtown Master Plan was in the works, Gauthier said. 

“There is a will and a vision to transform the downtown through arts and culture,” he said. “At the same time, there was a Francophone community planning effort that was trying to decide what we needed and where we wanted to go, and one of the needs identified was for a collective space where we can gather, en Francais, where we can showcase our artists and, quite simply, eat and drink together.

“The project morphed into a need for the entire community, and that’s how we now have a top-notch facility, one of the best performing spaces in Northern Ontario.”

Jean-Gilles Pelletier is the new executive director for Place des Arts. He told in a previous interview that Place des Arts will focus on the idea that to belong as a Francophone, all you need to do is interact with the French language. 

“I think the identity is always in flux, I think it's an ebb and flow process,” he said. “My sense is that we are Francophones when we act, when we interact, when we do something that speaks to our Francophonie.

“And, when Anglophones go to a play in French, they are a bit Francophonie. We need to make that extra step, to create that act of belonging to something that's bigger and greater than you. And that's when it happens, that's when the magic happens.” 

The vision that has now come to fruition is that of the seven founding organizations: Carrefour francophone, Centre franco-ontarien de folklore, Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario, Éditions Prise de parole, Nuit sur l'étang, Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario and Salon du livre du Grand Sudbury. 

Place des Arts boasts an early childhood arts centre, several creative spaces for youth, more than 10,000 square feet of office space, a black-box style multipurpose studio for 120 people, a concert hall with 299 seats, and a contemporary art gallery and gift and book shop.

The outside of the building is made of corten steel, “a rich material with colours typical of ore from Northern Ontario,” said Place des Arts.

“Place des Arts is open to everyone, regardless of what language you speak,” said Gauthier.

— With files from Jenny Lamothe /