The Midland Cultural Centre (“MCC”) is the hub of culture in the heart of Georgian Bay! It is a unique, modern, architecturally designed arts and culture centre. The MCC is unique for many reasons. The facility combines performing arts, visual arts, theatre and great food all under one roof. The MCC was paid for before it opened thanks to a remarkable donation from the Weber Foundation, a Canadian charitable foundation created by local industrialist and philanthropist Reinhart Weber, his wife Alexandra and their family. Situated in the heart of downtown Midland, the Centre welcomes over 75,000 visitors a year and presents over 300 events annually.
Behind the Scenes:
In 2008, Fred Hacker, a prominent local lawyer and Trustee of the Weber Foundation, proposed the creation of a cultural facility as a way the Foundation might further enhance the lives of North Simcoe residents. The Foundation had already made substantial contributions to many agencies and organizations in the area. The Weber Foundation Trustees agreed that support for the cultural sector would be appropriate and began investigating opportunities. It was concluded that a centre that supported several local community cultural organizations would be the best model. After an extensive search for the appropriate location, the site of the old Roxy Theatre (at a prominent intersection in downtown Midland) was chosen, adjacent lands were acquired, and planning began. Award winning architect Howard Rideout was engaged to design the new cultural facility.
Centre of Interest:
When the Trustees of the Weber Foundation surveyed the resources and needs of the community, it became apparent that the Midland area was well served with athletic, educational, and social facilities and organizations. One gap was in the arts and culture realm where there was no dedicated venue to serve the vibrant creative community which exists in Midland and the surrounding municipalities. The MCC became the hub of that creative community. The new centre was conceived to be community-based and volunteer-driven. Dedicated community volunteers began meeting in 2010 to develop an outline for the administration of the facility. Construction began in 2011 and the building opened in May 2012 with the Huronia Players marking their 50th anniversary with a play. The MCC is welcoming to all. One of the first images as one enters the MCC is the row of three pillars each separately inscribed with a welcome (“Ahneen” in Ojibwa, “Bienvenue” in French and “Welcome” in English) reflecting the original three peoples of the area. The focus of the facility is the Café/Atrium area. The Café name, “Café Roxy”, memorializes the movie theatre that stood on the site for many decades.
The Beat of Georgian Bay:
The MCC facility is the home to four separate organizations. Midland Cultural Centre Inc. operates the building and leases space to Quest Art School + Gallery, Huronia Players and the Café Roxy operator. MCC Inc. presents a wide range of cultural programming in Rotary Hall (a 274-seat multi-purpose facility that can accommodate theatrical, musical and dance performances, films, lectures, conferences, conventions, and dining). While the MCC is the major presenter in Rotary Hall, that facility is also available for rent to community groups and third-party entertainment providers. Variety is the strength of the MCC. Music of all kinds are offered: classical, country, pop rock, world, folk, jazz, swing and more are all featured on our stage. In addition to musical performances, the MCC offers family entertainment, comedy, magic and dance. The MCC is also proud to present three community programs geared to serve the interests of North Simcoe and beyond. A Day in the Life is a conversational program featuring prominent Canadians from all walks of life. The program is presented in front of a live audience and is televised through RogersTV. More than 100 editions have been presented since the Centre opened. Our Health presents health-related information sessions on mental health, lifestyle, and diseases. The program is free to the public and plays to a full house seven times a year. Straight Talk is a more recent addition to community programming. It is a public affairs program that presents opinions on topics of current interest and encourages interaction between presenters and audience members.
Quest Art is a volunteer-driven organization, with a staff of three, that offers quality visual arts programs and exhibitions. Quest Art works to engage the public through dynamic art activities, visual arts education, exhibition and appreciation, outreach and community partnerships. Quest Art offers youth camps & classes, adult workshops, artist presentations and demonstrations, curated and community exhibitions, an annual juried art show, peer mentoring, and community art activities.
Huronia Players has performed live theatre in the Midland area for over 50 years in a range of venues from high school gymnasiums to rented theatres. After many years of fundraising and planning to build a permanent space, Huronia Players was very grateful to partner with the Weber Foundation to be a part of creating this amazing facility. The community theatre group produces three major productions each year in the intimate 121 seat Huronia Players Theatre. Huronia Players is a completely volunteer-based organization which provides opportunities for a diverse crowd of individuals with skills ranging from acting to carpentry. The group also provides education and workshops in the theatre arts.
The building construction was funded by a $10,000,000 donation from the Weber Foundation (the largest single philanthropic donation in the history of the region). In addition, financial contributions were received from Huronia Players, the Rotary Club of Midland, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Toronto-Dominion Bank, and the Bank of Montreal. Huronia Players invested a further $150,000 in the outfitting of the Huronia Players Theatre at the MCC. The Sarjeant Co. Ltd. and Atlas Block Co. Ltd. each made significant in-kind donations. The MCC generates operating funds from programming, events, sponsorships, donations and some grants. In the early years, the Weber Foundation substantially underwrote the costs of operation and continues to be a major donor. Unlike most arts and culture centres, the MCC has no capital debt and is not dependent on funding from any of the three levels of government. The MCC would not exist without the strong support of citizens and businesses in the community who, through donations and sponsorships, contribute almost 37% of the operating costs of the MCC programming. The MCC facility was donated to the Town of Midland who lease the facility to MCC Inc. MCC Inc. subleases space to each of Quest Art School + Gallery, Huronia Players and the Café Roxy operator. Each of the MCC, Quest Art and Huronia Players have their own Board of Directors and fund their own operations.
The MCC has a Board of Directors who provide oversight to the operations including productions. MCC has a staff of four full time employees: a General Manager, an Operations Manager, a Finance Coordinator and a Marketing Coordinator. The MCC also employs part-time staff who provide audio-visual services and front of house management at concerts and events. The MCC is very fortunate to have dozens of dedicated volunteers who devote countless hours to the service and promotion of the Midland Cultural Centre. Without their strong and loyal support, the MCC could not exist. Volunteer service positions include box office/reception, ticket-taker, usher, event set-up and tear-down, coat check, merchandise sales, photography, graphic arts, maintenance, sound and lighting, programming, stagehand, and hospitality. In recognition of the importance of their role and the excellent job they do of promoting the MCC, the Board now recognizes them as “Ambassadors”.
There is an increasing awareness of the MCC in the community and beyond. Now, the MCC is seen as a jewel of the community. It is one of the features of the region that residents take pride in and is an increasingly significant attraction for visitors to the area. Frequently, the MCC has been cited as a reason why newcomers chose to make Midland their home. From the outset, the MCC viewed itself as a potential cultural hub. That potential has been realized. The reputation of the MCC now extends far beyond the local region. In the arts and culture industry, the MCC is regarded as a “gold standard” for cultural venues. People from outside our area are overwhelmed by the quality and functionality of the facility, by the quality and quantity of programming, and by the MCC’s unique financial model.