Phoenix rising: reborn La Fab becoming Outaouais’ arts hub
A brand new arts centre is taking the National Capital Region by storm. Previously known as La Fab Arts Centre located in the heart of the village of Chelsea (immediately adjacent to St. Stephen’s Church in the 1898 Rectory), the inspired group of artists have moved on.
In July 2021, they purchased the Grace United Church at 8 Mill Street, built in 1875. Also in Chelsea, these new premises are located at the corner of Mill Street and Route 105 North.
The rebirth required a new name. While officially it’s the Centre des arts, de la culture et du patrimoine de Chelsea, coopérative de solidarité – it is known as La Fab sur Mill. This change of venue sparked exciting opportunities to reconceptualize the centre. Why not take advantage of Grace Church’s excellent acoustics and embrace multidisciplinary arts?
Accordingly, the former sanctuary and nave spring into life as a performance hall for plays and musical shows. Already La Fab sur Mill is home to a vital group of musicians who have created the Gatineau Hills Fiddle Festival and the longstanding Open Mic Café.
In addition, concerts by such internationally renowned classical musicians as pianist Carson Becke have engaged audiences. Becke is the musical curator for the Music @ Mill Road concert series and is also responsible for arranging the loan of a Yamaha grand piano for the stage. Based at Luskville’s Venturing Hills Farm, where he is director of the Pontiac Enchanté concert program, Becke has given several performances at La Fab sur Mill. His latest this past March was Gustav Holst’s The Planets. Many more performances are planned.
Of course, true to its roots, La Fab sur Mill will also boast a gallery for the arts, seven artists’ studios, and a space for art workshops. To further complement its role as the Outaouais’ arts centre, there are offices for such regional arts organizations as 100 Mile Arts Network.
Paul Brown is the Executive Director of 100 Mile. About the organization’s brand-new offices at La Fab sur Mill, he said, “The 100 Mile Arts Network is pleased to have its offices located at La Fab Sur Mill because it promises to be such a vital hub, connecting artists of all disciplines. We look forward to seeing the growth of this venue and the benefits that will come from it to artists and the community.”
The Gallery’s first show, Vue, features artist Danielle Doucet (July 9 to August 21). Doucet’s unusual combination of watercolour and acrylic applied with spatulas, knives and brushes create surprising effects. Her art is sure to attract an enthusiastic crowd because it represents the grand opening of La Fab sur Mill’s exhibition space.
Renovations are costly, however. This is where La Fab sur Mill has shone, obtaining two grants of considerable note.
The first was from the Government of Quebec’s Programme visant la requalification des lieux de culte excédentaires patrimoniaux. On March 3 this year, Quebec Culture and Communications Minister Nathalie Roy declared the expenditure of more than $10.2 million in grants for revitalizing heritage churches across the province. This amount included $624,762 for Grace United Church on Mill Road, which is targeted at stabilizing the heritage church and preserving its architectural features.
The second significant infusion of money came from the federal government on June 4.
Sophie Chatel, Liberal Member of Parliament for Pontiac presented a cheque of $223,284 from the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED), on behalf of the Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
This grant is destined for finalizing the gallery, artists’ studios and renovation of the sanctuary.
Ms Chatel said, “Our support for the Centre des arts, de la culture et du patrimoine de Chelsea (La Fab sur Mill) attests to our government’s commitment to boost economic development in communities of all sizes, across all regions. The work planned for the Corporation’s two buildings will provide interesting spaces to vitalize the community. It is now up to residents and visitors to make them theirs once again and thereby enhance their quality of life. Bravo on this exciting project supporting Chelsea’s development!”
The cheque was gratefully received by La Fab Sur Mill Acting President, Sandy Foote.
Richard Austin, Director, Visual Arts Council, said, “The investment by Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions is a critical piece in the transformation of the former Grace United Church into a visual and performing arts centre for the region. Through this funding, we are able to not only transform the building, but also continue its heritage as a community meeting place open to all.”
With this new federal grant of more than a quarter of a million dollars, La Fab sur Mill is celebrating its future as the Outaouais’ major regional arts hub.
For more information: visit La Fab sur Mill on Facebook: bit.ly/3zNZjmb; on Instagram at lafabsurmill; or by e-mail: info@firstname.lastname@example.org.