Chamber society short on cash for project

Tracey Tong/metro ottawa


Ottawa Chamber Music Society president and chairman Colin Cooke looks at where the proposed concert hall was to rise at 150 Elgin St. yesterday.

Unable to find a major sponsor and facing an up to $7-million shortfall, the Ottawa Chamber Music Society yesterday scrapped its plan to build a $33-million concert hall.

The society, which faced a city-imposed deadline of tomorrow to prove it had secured funds towards the hall, will not be seeking an extension, said Colin Cooke, president and chairman of the board of directors of the Ottawa Chamber Music Society.

While the project garnered $26 million in commitments — the city had pledged $6.5 million, while the federal government and the province had granted $8 million and $6.5 million respectively — the amount fell short of the required $33 million, despite $5 million in pledges from supporters and the developer.

The total budget for the concert hall project was $38 million, which included a $5 million endowment fund to support operations.

Because most funds committed to the project were pledges, there’s little cash in the society’s hands, Cooke said.

"In terms of any money donated to the organization, we will be in touch with all the donors to see what they want done with it."

Plans for the concert hall at 150 Elgin St. have been ongoing since October 2004.

"It is a big loss," said Cooke. "There were an awful lot of folks in town looking forward to having a facility built for music and voice and acoustic presentation."

Catherine O’Grady, executive producer of the Ottawa Jazz Fest, was also disappointed. "We have nowhere to go when important artists come to town in the winter months. We were excited about the possibility about what this would have meant to cultural life in the community."

Still, the society hasn’t completely surrendered its dream of a concert hall.

"The positive spin on all of this is that this has brought the concept to the minds of many people. Even if this version doesn’t move forward, perhaps Plan B will come together from some source in the very near future," Cooke said.

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