2.9 C
Niagara Falls
Friday, March 24, 2023
Letter: Council needs to quickly approve cultural hub for old hospital
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

The Niagara Creative Cultural Hub has proposed a new use for the old NOTL hospital site that makes sense, (“Non-profits want old hospital to be community hub,” The Lake Report, March 9).

Arts and culture play an important role in NOTL.

We have the Shaw Festival, Bravo Niagara, Music Niagara and a plethora of galleries and museums.

These institutions employ hundreds of people and not just artists; they hire technicians, office staff, crafts people, maintenance workers, etc.

But the biggest driver of NOTL’s economy, outside of agriculture, is tourism.

It employs 3,350 people and generates millions in revenue for the town and local businesses.

Tourists come here for NOTL’s beauty and to have an experience they can’t get elsewhere: attend a play at a world-class theatre, go wine or beer tasting, see a musical performance at venues like Jackson-Triggs, or learn about the area’s history at the museum.

John Peller recently spoke publicly about the importance of building a premium wine-based experience in NOTL to sustain and grow our economy, (“Grand new vision unveiled for Niagara wine and tourism sector,” The Lake Report, March 2).

This is vital in providing career opportunities for young adults who want to live and raise their families in NOTL.

Drive through Napa on any weekend and many of the wineries offer live music or art shows to enhance the wine and food experience.

Live music is “sticky” and a premium experience that keeps visitors at the wineries longer and spending more money.

How does the Niagara Creative Cultural Hub fit into this? This group is proposing a major renovation to the hospital that will then house numerous cultural groups including the Shaw, Plenty Canada, Yellow Door Theatre and Royal Oak Community School.

The hub has already secured $2 million in donor funding and is not asking the town for money.

Educating artists and creators is part of the hub’s plan. If we are to enhance the cultural experience in NOTL we need artisans and performers who are trained in their crafts and want to live and work in the area.

A facility that supports artists and other cultural workers with education, community and work space is a big piece in making this happen.

Niagara College is crucial to NOTL’s tourism industry, offering relevant education in food and beverage, wine-making, beer brewing and more.

Go to almost any winery or restaurant in NOTL and you will see Niagara College graduates at work. Imagine how much more difficult it would be for these businesses to find qualified workers if not for the college.

The hub could provide a similar role for arts and culture.

With the sale last year of the Laura Memorial Secord School in Queenston to a private developer, facilities in NOTL that offer space for artisans to learn and create are rare.

I urge NOTL council to support this project and not waste an opportunity to transform the hospital into a community facility that benefits both residents and the tourism industry.

Stewart Hall

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