St. Michael’s All Angel’s Church wants to transform their space into a multifunctional concert hall
St. Michael’s All Angel’s Church is in the middle of renovation and has asked Prince George’s City Council for funding to turn the church into a multi-purpose concert hall.
However, the council has declined the church’s request as it awaits a city-wide comprehensive arts strategy.
Dr. Marie Hay and Dwight Wolfe, both longtime members, attended the meeting on Monday evening (October 4) to ask the council for a grant of $ 50,000 for 300 upholstered and linkable chairs to make the space into a concert hall transform.
“Moving into a decade after COVID, St. Michael is expanding and improving the use of its large space into a safe and accessible, vibrant center for the performing arts,” said Hay.
The church is currently used as the home for its Anglican congregation, the center for truth and reconciliation, social services, and a medium-sized concert hall for choirs and other performing arts.
“To achieve this goal, St. Michael’s needs 300 padded, linkable concert chairs that allow great flexibility in this downtown multi-purpose space and make it a bustling center for humanity.”
Wolfe stated that the church began a $ 650,000 exterior renovation including a new roof in April, but not long after a severe rainstorm damaged the interior and basement.
An insurance company is now restoring the interior from floor to roof for about $ 442,000, resulting in an almost complete renovation of the facility.
“This full restoration of St. Michael has opened up a unique opportunity to turn this large, well-constructed building into a multi-purpose building for the people of Prince George,” said Wolfe. “The parish of St. Michael has determined that the one-off use of this room on a Sunday morning for a church service is not good use or management of such a fine structure.”
Wolfe stated that replacing the benches with chairs would allow for a comfortable 300-seat venue with a total capacity of 498 people instead of 200 seats on hard benches.
“It is common knowledge that we are waiting for the arts strategy to return to the council as a whole,” said Coun. Cori Ramsay.
“While 50,000 doesn’t seem like a lot of money, we don’t know what that large scale will look like or how much we will invest in the future.”
Since St. Michael is not a municipal facility, Coun. Brian Skakun said he was concerned about the request as the city is donating only $ 50,000 to the Community Arts Council (CAC) to operate Studio 2880, which is owned by the city.
CAC is also working on initial plans to turn Trinity Downtown (formerly Knox United Church) into a venue.
“We know Knox United is in the process of applying for a feasibility study grant to see if their building can be converted into a concert hall, but I think we will be way further than them and will be ready” by January 2022, ”said Hay.
However. Count. Terri McConnachie pointed out that the main function of the Church continues to be a place of worship and, as such, has already received tax exemptions from various levels of government.
“I think this is on top of what the church exists for and has support from other levels of government for,” McConnachie said. “In addition to this Coun. Ramsay was very good in explaining when we are waiting for a bit more plan to come together. I don’t want to step out of this right now by investing money. “
Count. Kyle Sampson suggested that the Church apply for funding through the city’s myPG Community Grant program, a stream of funding designed to help local organizations develop and deliver projects.
“I strongly encourage you to get in touch with the staff and see if there are already some grant streams in the town of Prince George that you might fall into,” said Sampson.
Count. Murry Krause added that he would prefer to wait for the art strategy suggested by the staff to complete, should be available within six months.
“Also I don’t want to see piecemeal support for art in the community and if we didn’t wait for the art strategy, it could be a completely different ball game,” said Krause, who then applied for an analysis of St. Michael’s would be included in general art strategy.
“I’ve never seen a request like this from a church and it’s interesting to say the least,” said Mayor Lyn Hall.
“I know you have done a tremendous amount of work with people who are marginalized and live on the streets and I think if we can bring this to our art strategy process, this is the best position for you and for for us in, so we are not able to dismantle it piece by piece. “