Big Changes Happening at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga
The Living Arts Centre (LAC) in Mississauga is beautifully built and perfectly located right in the heart of the city's official downtown core, steps away from Square One, Sheridan College and a vast array of condos and apartments.
But while it's always occupied prime real estate, it—and some of its productions—has often flown under the radar.
Now, however, there's been a new development—and it's one that makes us wonder if new management will lead to some significant change at the elegant and spacious arts hub.
Today, Mississauga city council passed a motion to end its relationship agreement with the LAC on December 31, 2019, and assume responsibility for all operations and management of the facility.
So, what will change?
Since its construction in 1997, the Living Arts Centre has been owned by the City of Mississauga. During that time, through a lease and relationship agreement with the city, The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga (a registered not-for-profit charitable organization), has been responsible for managing programming and services within the facility.
Council’s July 3 decision ends the lease and relationship with the LAC by no later than December 31, which will enable the city to assume full operation of the facility.
Mayor Bonnie Crombie says the move will, ideally, benefit not just the LAC, but the city's entire music scene.
"In order to grow our music industry, drive tourism and establish Mississauga as a 'Music City,' we need to unlock the true potential of the Living Arts Centre. Today, council took the first step by voting in support of a motion that will help realize that vision. In addition to their cultural significance, creative industries are an important driver of economic growth and employment," Crombie said in a statement.
"It's important the City of Mississauga has the ability to strategically leverage city assets, including the Living Arts Centre, so that we can take our creative industries to the next level and grow it in a way that drives investment, creates jobs and ultimately puts Mississauga on the map as a 'Music City.''
Crombie thanked the LAC board for its service.
"On behalf of council, I do want to thank the exceptional volunteer board members who have dedicated countless hours to the Living Arts Centre over the past 20 years; and I look forward to working with the current board during this transition."
Over the next six months, city staff will work with the current LAC board to transition operations and management of the facility.
This won't be the first artistic or cultural hub to fall under the city's jurisdiction.
"Today, the city owns, operates and manages several major entertainment and cultural facilities such as the Paramount Fine Foods Centre, Celebration Square and the Meadowvale Theatre. Council has tasked staff with finding opportunities across all these municipal assets to better integrate programming, drive tourism and establish Mississauga as a creative music city," said Janice Baker, City Manager and Chief Administrative Officer.
Baker says guests and LAC employees won't be hugely affected by the transition.
"It is business as usual for employees, customers and rental clients at the LAC as we transition into this new management model."
Baker also says the city's Culture Division will play a key role in leading the transition along with other city staff.
While it's hard to say exactly how the city will transform the LAC, it's hard to argue against a changing of the guard. The LAC hosts some commendable productions and offers a range of workshops and classes, but it doesn't resonate enough with the community.
It might struggle because people are more likely to travel to Toronto to see musical and theatrical performances, but it could benefit from offering productions that are a little trendier (and perhaps even edgier when appropriate).
Do you think this is good news for the LAC?
Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to clarify the relationship between the city and the LAC prior to the July 3 announcement