Revisiting a Bold Idea for the Old Fire Hall in Newmarket

I wrote a piece a little while ago about the vacant Old Fire Hall and wanted to update my proposal. It has sat vacant on Main Street in downtown Newmarket for a number of years now and it’s been frustrating to see such a cool asset sit there when it has so much potential.

My proposal could be done with very few property tax payer dollars, as I’m sure with the right group could apply for grants and seek sponsorships. Imagine for a moment the doors of the fire hall opening up to the streetscape to see a glass blower, a painter, or a sculptor. The main floor could be a workshop and retail area for a local artisan or artisans who could live above the workspace for an established time period.

Many towns and cities have created ‘Artist in Residence’ programs, so why not Newmarket? Imagine a program that supports young, emerging artists, who have an ability to refine their craft, sell goods, and all the while adding to the vibrancy of our community. Such an investment and commitment to the arts community could animate Main Street even further.

The artist would donate some of their work to a permanent municipal collection, adding a permanent contribution to the communities commitment to public art.

I’ve appreciated how our community has increased investment in arts and culture in the past decade. But, there is so much more that can be done. The investment of infrastructure dollars in downtown Newmarket has served as a catalyst for private sector investment. Let’s keep the momentum by taking this municipal asset that has sat vacant and use it as a leverage to attract even more attention to our bustling community.

Economic development studies show that communities that invest in arts and culture attract a diverse and dynamic population, which in turn, attracts employers who value such a potential employee base.

I’d love to get a group together to help move this idea forward. Let me know if you’re interested and email me at emanuel.chris@gmail.com

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A business leader who has driven organizational change. A former politician (still recovering) who likes to comment on business, politics and society

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Chris Emanuel

A business leader who has driven organizational change. A former politician (still recovering) who likes to comment on business, politics and society