Special needs arts centre displaced by roof collapse
After a complete roof collapse at Fairview Arena on Tuesday, the attached Indefinite Arts Centre is unsure if they’ll be able to return to their studio
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It was business as usual at Indefinite Arts Centre on Tuesday — but everything changed by late afternoon.
The arts centre shares the Fairview Arena with the Fairview Women’s Hockey Arena Society, and provides training and exhibition opportunities for 250 people with developmental disabilities every week.
Approximately 70 artists were in their program on Tuesday, and left only an hour before the entire roof of the attached arena collapsed onto the ice.
Jung-Suk Ryu, executive director of Indefinite Arts Centre, said he has “no idea” whether or not they’ll be able to return to the space, which they’ve had since 2008.
“Fingers crossed we’ll know soon,” he said. “The arts centre plays a strong role in the community, and it’s more a matter of just knowing. If we can’t come in, then at least we know and can start looking for a home. Right now we’re just in limbo.”
On Monday afternoon, the city was notified of structural issues by arena operators after visitors saw and heard cracking in the roof above the ice. A safety code operator decided to close the arena before the roof collapsed at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, meaning no one was in the building or injured in the incident.
By Wednesday afternoon, the City of Calgary was unable to say with certainty if the Fairview Arena can be repaired following the failure of the roof. Fairview Arena is a city-owned and partner-operated facility.
“It’s too early to speculate at this point in time,” said Calgary Recreation manager Greg Steinraths. “We don’t know what was the cause — it’s not even safe enough to go in at this point in time. Once we get cleared to go in, we’ll find out what the situation is and make those decisions.”
A property condition assessment of the facility was last completed in 2015, where no structural issues were found. Currently, the inspections are done every five years with city-owned properties, and while Steinraths said he’s still comfortable with that timeline, the city will review those protocols once this incident is fully investigated.
Ryu was able to take a look inside the Indefinite Arts Centre on Wednesday. Shaking his head, he said it was “in disarray,” but added that, beyond the appearance, there might be more structural issues.
“We share utilities, and we’re actually kind of stacked on top of each other,” he said. “It’s not simply a wall that we share, so undoubtedly there will be some issues long-term.”
It’s a big hit for the arts centre, after investing upwards of $2-million in rebuilding the space after the Fairview Community Association gave it up “because it was in such disrepair,” said Ryu.
“We have a lot on the line right now,” he added.
Luckily, a long list of people, churches, developers and clubs have already reached out to Ryu offering a temporary studio space. Given the accessibility requirements for some artists in wheelchairs, however, it’s still a challenge to find a place for their artists during the waiting game.
“The response has been so overwhelmingly positive with people lining up to try and figure out any way that they can help,” he said.
“For the artists we serve, this is more than just a place where they’re doing art, this is like a home away from home for them. So the fact that they’re no longer able to come here for the time being is saddening news for them and their families.”