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Fanshawe looking to expand into downtown London

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | February 16th, 2010

A promising a new venture between Fanshawe College and the city of London may soon be finalized.

On Wednesday February 10, Fanshawe College made a proposal to the London's Board of Control with hopes of having some downtown London properties converted to house applied and performing arts students.

In a media release issued February 9, it stated that in order “to facilitate this and make it more affordable, the city will provide Fanshawe with access to a variety of financial incentives within a new district to be called the Education and Arts District.”

The plan, although still waiting on approval by Board of Control and London's municipal council, could take up to 10 years to construct.

Created in a number of phases and developed over time, the School for Applied and Performance Arts project will create much needed capacity for Fanshawe to bring together existing, enhanced, new and expanded programming into one vibrant location, said a Fanshawe College representative in a release.

The new space will accommodate between 800 to 1,000 students and aims to have up to 100,000 square feet of classroom and theatre space upon completion.

“This is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Bernice Hull, vice-president of administration for Fanshawe. “Fanshawe wants to be able to expand its programming and establish a centre of excellence for arts-related programming. A first-class school for applied and performance arts will bring new life and vibrancy into London's downtown area.”

Over time this project will blossom into other fields of art, not just theatre, added Hull.

“The possible expansion of Fanshawe College into downtown London could provide a unique catalyst for downtown revitalization as well as meeting the needs of Fanshawe College,” said Victor Coté, London's general manager of finance and corporate services. “This plan is consistent with the city's downtown revitalization plans, as well as its priorities of heritage preservation and economic opportunities.”

Once the project is approved, the city of London will help offset some of the costs associated with the construction of the building over the 10-year span.

Hull stated another means of funding would have to come from the provincial government, special donors and other resources that will be established slowly over time.

This new arts' district will be modified to include payment of lieu of taxes, approved by the city of London.

Private and not-for-profit theatre, dance and music directed at today's youth will also be incorporated into the new arts district, mentioned Hull.

Adding if in the summer months Fanshawe students are not using the space, the rooms are easily rented out and used by those who need them.

The proposed arts district is just south of Dundas Street at the south end, to Kent Street at the north, and Talbot Street on the west end to Clarence Street on the east side.
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