Downtown Hamilton’s heritage church needs $3.9 million to turn into a music hall – Hamilton

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Plans to transform a downtown Hamilton heritage church into a concert hall are about to materialize.

New Vision United Church hopes to find a way to raise $3.9 million in funding to renovate the historic Main Street West and MacNab Street South church and turn it into a 1,000-seat music hall.

It’s been seven years since the idea first surfaced at Juno Fest and since then Sonic Unyon and Supercrawl have hosted successful ‘proof of concept’ shows with headliners like Terra Lightfoot, Dan Mangan and Jeff Tweedy.

Ian Sloan, who coordinates the New Vision music hall initiative, said the city’s music strategy committee had reached out and said Hamilton currently lacked a mid-size venue like this for touring musicians who would not necessarily sell FirstOntario Concert Hall or FirstOntario Centre.

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He also said it would be helpful for Hamilton-based musicians.

“If you’re in the city of Hamilton and you’re moving up the ladder as a musician or a performer, we need more spaces of that size in the city for people to stay in the city and develop their arts and crafts here.

The heritage-listed church was built in 1868 and would require a lot of work to turn it into a state-of-the-art concert hall.

Renovation planning determined that the building will need ground floor structural reinforcement, a large gender-neutral washroom suite to accommodate the occupancy load of the auditorium, upgrades to safety in the balcony area, improved accessibility features, sound and lighting support, guest, crew and performer amenities, and significant ventilation improvements – which includes air conditioning.

Right now, Sloan said they are focused on developing a clear structure for operation and programming on the site.

“We’re looking to bring together a group of people who can make this a long-term success, so it’s definitely going to take a lot of different talents,” he said.

“We will need people capable of raising funds. He’s going to need people who can work on the fundraising element of a project like this, obviously he’s going to need an operator who runs a room and runs it and any room, whether that either Massey Hall or FirstOntario Concert Hall next door. So we see ourselves as a catalyst for that to develop. »

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Musicians like Tom Wilson and Arkells frontman Max Kerman are among those voicing their support for the initiative.

“Hamilton deserves a venue of this size run with integrity and thoughtfulness,” Wilson said in a statement about the initiative. “The Music Hall is a stage that opens the doors to other artists and it is the most important role that a cultural center can offer.”

Kerman said he’s thrilled the space is “getting some TLC” and that “a beautiful space in the heart of downtown Hamilton for people to come together and celebrate art and community is much needed.” “.

It’s unclear how long it will be before the church is officially turned into a modern music hall, but Sloan said they hope it will be sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, New Vision is now accepting bookings for events and performances in the unrenovated space to give Hamiltonians a taste of its potential as a music hall – potentially as early as October.

Those wanting to learn more about the initiative can visit New Vision’s website for the music hall, and those looking to use the space before renovations begin can contact Sloan by email or by phone at 289- 440-3397.

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