Toronto’s Music Gallery has announced that they are being forced to temporarily vacate from 197 John St, a home they have leased from the Church of St. George the Martyr for over 17 years.
The interdisciplinary arts venue was given notice on April 20 that construction on an adjacent condo development had raised safety concerns over the structural integrity of the dual purpose performance space and church sanctuary. They have been asked to vacate the premises effective this past Monday, May 1, 2017.
According to Music Gallery Artistic Director David Dacks, the 14 story condominium project developed by Tridel “has been simmering for years,” but it was unknown until now that the excavation process to the neighbouring property would be deemed risky for the sanctuary structure of the church, where the Musical Gallery presents their performances.
Dacks confirmed that they had done everything in their power to stave off the relocation, but after several structural engineers had confirmed their worst fears, they had few options other than to move.
At its closest point, the condo development will only be 10 to 15 feet away from the sanctuary structure.
The church was originally built in the 1850’s, and Dacks said it has been in dire need of repairs over the last several decades. “…the original church burned down in the ’50s and was rebuilt to where it presently is now and is susceptible to the kind of vibrations that construction will produce.”
“Nobody wants to see the building damaged,” said Dacks. “Both The developer and the Anglican Dioceses of Toronto recognize that the property is one of the most historically important churches west of Yonge Street and are motivated to do what’s necessary to preserve the building.”
All activities have ceased for both the Music Gallery and for the congregation at the location until further notice.
Despite the disruption happening at the end of the season, there are still seven concerts left at the Music Gallery. Dacks said they are working hard to avoid any cancellations of their own concerts, co-productions and venue guest rentals.
“In some cases, we’ve been able to suggest alternate venues, and in other cases, the events are going to be canceled outright.” One such event that will be canceled is the May 16th Safe Spaces event, which will be postponed until next year.
Looking ahead, Dacks noted that they are seeing the disruption as temporary, and are hoping that by the time the site is built back up to code, they will be able to move back into the building.