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MAKING [creative] SPACE - Guelph Youth Music Centre

The Guelph Youth Music Centre, a busy creative space in downtown Guelph, is a reminder of the strength of community and what is possible when we join forces with a shared vision. 

Situated along the speed river behind the ruins at Goldie Mill, GYMC has a mandate to enrich and foster the development of youth through music and the arts.  From the bustling activity in the building, it would seem that GYMC is achieving its goals. 
On entering the building, you’ll be welcomed by the blending of sounds, light, and warmth. Music wafts through the hallways and fills the sunlit foyer, inviting you to partake in the rich experiences that are being shaped here. 
GYMC Lobby Stairs photocred
Guelph Youth Music Centre Foyer, Photo: Guelph Youth Music Centre
Gabriella Currie-Ziegler, GYMC’s Executive Director, meets me with a warm squeeze and a hot black coffee and we set out on a tour of the Guelph Youth Music Centre. She’s enthralled with this place - in love actually - and it’s contagious.

As we tour through this bustling community space, there are high school students coming and going, bands rehearsing, and parents and toddlers moving in and out of their music classes freely. We peek our noses into a few classes in the smaller studios upstairs to see what’s going on behind the doors, in the upper foyer, Gabriella crouches down to say hello to a little one in rainbow striped socks who is running across the upstairs hallway with her mom’s help.

I inquire as to why GYMC is full of high school students since it’s the middle of a school day and I’m told that the students are part of an Urban Arts program called MADE, an interdisciplinary high school arts program that builds community engagement through the arts. They have been using the space for their program since 2014 and are clearly having a good time here.

Suzuki String School of Guelph has been with GYMC since the early days and remains a primary tenant occupying an entire wing of the building with its many class rooms. Guelph Symphony, Guelph Youth Singers, Guelph Chamber Choir, New Horizons, Guelph Concert Band, Guelph Glee and Guelph School of Music, also call GYMC home while countless other groups, festivals and individual teachers also use the space for events, classes and performances. 

The expansive space at Guelph Youth Music Centre is made up of a dance studio (with sprung floor), recital hall, meeting rooms, 15 studio spaces as well as the upper foyer space. All of these spaces are available for rent and inquiries can be made via an easy form on the GYMC website.

GYMC has not always been a part of the cultural landscape in Guelph. After two decades of fundraising for a new home for Suzuki String School of Guelph, and upon the focus of this original initiative expanding, the resources amassed by these early efforts were transferred to the GYMC project.  The City of Guelph became a major stakeholder and acquired the post and beam building for the purposes of this initiative. While the capital costs of maintaining the building remain the responsibility of the organization, the building is leased annually for a nominal fee, from the City of Guelph.  The original building was renovated by local architectural firm, Grinham Architects and re-opened to the public in 2001.

GYMC photocred Melissa Gobeil
Guelph Youth Music Centre, Photo: Melissa Gobeil

Over the years, this busy creative space has become vital to the community.   Guelph Youth Music Centre provides space to over 200 groups and individuals since its inception. It is estimated that over 20,000 volunteer hours went into making this space a reality, and today, hundreds of volunteers continue to give over 7000 hours annually to help keep this creative hub running smoothly. 

With all of this going on, GYMC remains committed to offering high quality, low cost space to the community, with a focus on being able to provide affordable space and thus affordable programming to as many children and youth as possible. 

To achieve some of these goals, GYMC recently installed a 10kw MicroFit solar system on the roof that will generate $4.5k + annually for the organization. This project was made possible by an interest free loan provided by two GYMC board members. In addition to creating a new revenue stream that will offset some of the building’s operating costs, the hope is that the project will also engage and educate families about the growing renewable energy movement and the positive impact that it can have on the community at large.  Guelph Solar will be installing a monitor in the lower foyer that will show kids just how much power GYMC is generating for their community, and how is is benefiting the community.

GYMC SOLAR PANELS photocred gymc
Solar Panels at GYMC, Photo: Guelph Youth Music Centre

In March 2014, GYMC received a two-year Trillium Grant for $109k to assist them with a new marketing campaign that will re-brand Guelph Youth Music Centre. Patrons and community members can look forward to the launch of GYMC’s new look come late spring or summer of 2015.   

This important creative space emphasizes what we value for our youth and children, and GYMC and its many volunteers have successfully made space for a creative community to evolve. This project remains a wonderful example of what is possible when private, public and community interests come together to forge a new reality in Guelph.

For information about space rentals, concerts, and programming:

Guelph Youth Music Centre
75 Cardigan St.


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