Introducing St. John’s Centre for the Arts

ARICHAT: The former Anglican church here has been converted to a performance space and now has a new moniker.

Friends of St. John’s Arichat Society board chair Anne Leavitt said one of the top priorities of the group last winter was to bring it up to code to pass a fire inspection so they installed fire exit signs, erected fire separation barriers and redid electrical wiring throughout the building.

The society also had to deal with a pigeon problem in the steeple and they had to bring in a company to get rid of the birds and clean up the inside of the steeple.
The biggest item of news from the society was the renaming of the building. Leavitt said it could no longer be referred to as a church and was going to be used as a performance space.

“We’re all attached to the notion of the building being a church in shape and its original function but it’s not longer a consecrated church and so the board, with some consultation from the public, have decided to rename the building the St. John’s Centre for the Arts to better reflect our plans for it,” Leavitt noted.

Currently, the society is awaiting a new oil furnace and planning its installation, Leavitt said.

On Remembrance Day, the society will be participating in the “Bells of Peace” program with Royal Canadian Legion Branch 150 in Arichat after discovering that, along with its chimes, the centre has a working cast iron bell. For more on the program, go to: http://www.legion.ca/remembrance/promoting-remembrance/bells-of-peace/bring-bells-of-peace-to-your-community.

In addition to being used as a performance space, the former Anglican church has also been rented out for weddings and other ceremonies, to generate funds for the society. Leavitt said the centre can also be used as a space to display art and photographs, or for rehearsals and theatrical productions.

“The space, when we’re not using at a centre for the arts, certainly will be available to rent for people who want to use it,” Leavitt stated.

To live up to the new title, Leavitt said the centre will participate in the Isle Madame Christmas House Tour on November 24 and 25 along with the Isle Madame Historical Society, then it will host its annual Christmas concert on December 1 and 2.

“These kinds of events take a lot of planning, so once we get those out of the way and we have a furnace that’s operating, they’ll be nothing holding us back from having more events in this space all year round.”