Mara Brown

“This is our fifth anniversary as Carleton Dominion Chalmers Centre and we’ve been so fortunate to see a lot of history already in just these five years alone to get us started here in this historic and heritage gem in Centretown.

This is a 1912 building with rich history, being a United Church, and today Carleton University owns and operates the building here in Centretown. With the opportunity to have this fantastic arts performance and learning centre that is for both the university and for the community. It helps the university provide some really great opportunities for students first and foremost, it also allows for a little voice to be downtown because Carleton has its own main campus and this is the first and only Carleton’s downtown campus building and it’s been really amazing and we can be really proud of the fact that amidst all of the closures and experiences that we’ve had as a society in the last few years, we’ve still had over 200,000 people through the doors and that’s exciting.

It’s really exciting and I think what’s most exciting today, five years into the programming, is that the diversity of the programming is starting to really take shape.

People were well aware of this space being a great acoustic space for music and there’s fantastic summer music festivals that have been hosted here for many years or concerts that have been hosted here for years, but what we’re starting to see is a whole range of activities.

We have education programs in theatre for young people.

We have dance classes for all ability dancers and or tap dancers.

We also have visual arts and or sort of the manifestation of visual arts activities here in the space, music, opera, musical theatre.

The arts are being a little bit more fulsomely represented and we see the different types of audiences that support those different types of activities, but well beyond the arts and performance part is that link to education.

If we think of the university’s opportunity to share research or to share lifelong learning programming for folks of all ages and stages that maybe didn’t have an opportunity to go to university or want to continue their learning after they retired, we offer a lot of lectures as a university here with really high profile and or community-based speakers and I think it’s just a great opportunity to collaborate as well with folks from those that have subject matter expertise in various areas too.

It’s not just about a singular piece of research, it’s about how they actually interconnect.

And the community learning activities as well, right?

With those classes I mentioned earlier and a myriad of workshops that the community hosts here, it seems like the range as I say of programming has really blossomed and that is extremely inspiring for us as a staff and it’s so fun to see folks be able, we’re based in a residential area, so to be able to see folks be able to walk out their doors from any of the adjacent high rises and come on over for a lecture or come on over for a casual outreach program or concert, class, it’s just really lovely to see folks within Centretown be able to engage differently because I think in Centretown this is one of the only dedicated arts and performance and learning centres and that affiliation with Carleton supports that too.

We even have the local day care who happens to have a really tiny concrete play pad, they come over and use the garden, so we also have this beautiful garden that is one of the only green spaces in Centretown at the moment and we’re able to maximize the use of that space too so young people can have some time with the plants, they even help the landscapers when they collide in their schedules and it’s really joyful.

And having the United Church remain a tenant in the space is a very unique model, to have Sunday morning worship continue and ministry outreach work happen each week, there’s so many worlds colliding, so many ages, stages and we love being able to talk to our neighbours and support folks that are here with us, we are doing this together and it’s been a great five years.”

Mara Brown – Director of Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre (CDCC)
@cu_cdcc

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