La Fab-ulous funding
Chelsea art centre granted $624K for church upgrade
La Fab Arts Centre’s new home is about to get a serious upgrade thanks to grant funding from Quebec.
On March 3 in La Fab, Quebec Culture and Communications Minister Nathalie Roy announced over $10.2 million in grant funding for historic church revitalization projects across Quebec, including $624,762 for Grace United Church on Mill Road in Chelsea, which is now home to the La Fab arts collective.
“This grant is a dream come true for our community,” La Fab board president and woodworker Glen Foster said.
Roy was joined by Gatineau MNA Robert Bussière in making the announcement.
“This will be a permanent place of creation,” he said, translated from French.
The arts centre, now known as La Fab sur Mill since its purchase in 2021, was packed during the announcement with media and politicians.
“As you know, many things happen in the west side of the ward and now we’re looking to rejuvenate this side of the neighbourhood,” centre village Chelsea Councillor Dominic Labrie said, referring to the number of projects in Old Chelsea compared to the east side of the village. “It will be good for the artists and community as a whole. We don’t have a lot of community spaces like this. It will be nice.”
Chelsea Mayor Pierre Guénard also attended the announcement.
“This is an amazing way to preserve the vintage buildings and transition it to an arts and cultural hub,” he said.
La Fab is no stranger to breathing new life into old church buildings. For 10 years, up until fall 2021, La Fab was housed in St. Stephen’s Church rectory in Old Chelsea.
“It’s a great investment for the culture here in Chelsea and the MRC to allow our artists to work in a great space,” MRC des Collines Prefect Marc Carrière told the Low Down after the announcement.
The first phase of work will be renovating the basement to add seven artist studios, a lounge area and a classroom. The centre’s boutique and gallery on the main floor will also be created with this funding. This work is expected to start in the coming weeks, La Fab board member Stefan Krauss said.
The next phase of renovations includes: restoring the exterior of the building, replacing the windows, working on the foundation, replacing the heating system, expanding the stage and installing a proper lighting and sound system in the concert hall.
The heritage church was built in 1875 and was home to the Mill Road Community Space, the United Church congregation and the Chelsea Nearly New Shop. The community space has been added to La Fab’s programming. The United Church now congregates in the St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church just down Hwy 105 from Mill Road. The Nearly New Shop is now in the St. Stephen’s Church rectory.