March 10, 2014
You might have read in Exclaim!, The Coast, Chronicle Herald, Metro, Canadian Art magazine, or on CBC, or the many other forums that the Khyber Arts Society (KAS) has had it’s lease terminated by it’s landlords, the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). This is true, but could in fact be a very good thing. And here’s why:
The reason behind the lease termination is due to evidence of hazardous materials found in the building, like lead paint and asbestos, both generally safe if undisturbed. I should add that I am typing this message from the Khyber’s office because I would like to emphasize that the building is currently safe, the building predates the common use of asbestos. However, during the building’s lifetime, between 1900 and 1980’s asbestos would have been used to do patch work in unknown spots, the HRM is taking upon themselves to perform a complete abatement, removing all old plaster.
Our organization has met with both Mayor Mike Savage, and our district councillor Waye Mason, they have made it clear to us that the HRM is not looking to go back on any previous motions set by council to preserve the building as a cultural arts space nor do they wish to renounce Khyber Arts Society as an important stakeholder in the building or it’s position as the building’s anchor tenant. You can read Waye’s public statement here.
Bottom line is that the HRM purchased the building for a loonie back in 1986 and it has been largely neglected since then. There are now plans to give it a complete face lift and install an elevator!
This leaves the KAS looking for a new space, the HRM has been assisting with the relocation, we hope to have a new home by April 1, 2014. We look forward to slowing programming down in order to build strength as an organization and begin to work with the HRM and plan for our return to the Khyber building in what looks like 2 years time. If you would like to help please attend events, make a donation, become a card carrying member, share facebook posts, re-tweet, and discuss the importance of keeping the arts central to what Halifax has to offer with friends.