Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

Georgian College's Design and Visual Arts students are moving to Downtown Barrie.

Georgian has chosen a 17,000 square-foot building at 56 Bayfield St., Unit 101, facing Ross Street, as home to approximately 250 students in all years of Georgian’s Digital Photography and Imaging, Digital Video, Graphic Design and Graphic Design Production programs. The building is scheduled to be open in September.

“We’re excited about the possibilities this will bring, and we eagerly anticipate the first day of classes in September,” says Dr. Bill Angelakos, Dean of Technology and Visual Arts. “This new leased downtown location will provide our students greater opportunities for work-integrated and experiential learning and collaboration with experts in Barrie’s vibrant creative community, as well as space to show and sell their work.”

Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman agrees. “I’m excited to see this project moving forward,” he says. “Bringing postsecondary education downtown has been a key piece of our strategy for many years and this will be a boost for downtown businesses. Both the City and Georgian will benefit from this downtown location. Most importantly, it will provide an exciting new facility and a creative environment for Georgian’s talented students.”

Downtown Barrie has a valuable and cherished culture filled with vibrant arts of all genres, including live performances and theatre, visual art and design galleries, media and entertainment, and many other lively forms of talent, making it a perfect spot for an arts post-secondary education program. The diversity and variety in the arts offered by Barrie is a very positive attribute for getting a wide range of people interested and involved. The city’s culture is strong and active, and the market is expected to grow as Barrie evolves, and investments are made towards its development.

Merely a walk in the city is filled with Barrie’s memorable culture, with many galleries and coffee shops, festivals and fairs, public art pieces, and local shops to explore. Art students will be able to take advantage of this environment and expand their learning even further.

On the shore of Kempenfelt Bay in Barrie, for instance, is the Spirit Catcher, a famous example of the city’s public art pieces. The vast number of theatrical and musical shows in Barrie feature great artists and promise a good artistic experience.

Art In House, The Edge Gallery, and the MacLaren Art Centre are examples of well-known Barrie art galleries that display Canadian talent, and also provide the public with opportunities advance their creativity. Regular Barrie residents have a chance to participate in the creating of this art by participating as members or as students in art clubs, programs, and cultural organizations.

The new location for Visual Arts follows a full review by Georgian College. Seven submissions were received in response to an RFP issued in fall 2016. A committee of faculty, administrative staff, engineers and architects toured and assessed four short-listed sites over several months before making this choice.

“Through some exciting renovations, we will really make this space our own,” Angelakos says. “The building will get a much-needed exterior facelift, and work on the interior will create high ceilings, multi-purpose open space with lots of light, as well as classrooms, work areas, offices and storage. Georgian is proud to be involved in a project that will help to invigorate part of Barrie’s downtown core.”

The choice of site is pending final approval from the provincial government and rezoning by the City of Barrie.

Article by Sara Taslim, with files from Georgian College
Photo courtesy of Georgian College

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