When faced with the termination of their lease, Evergreen Theatre wanted to do more than just move. They decided “it was time to take a big risk” and purchase a building that could be remodeled into viable and vibrant community space – a decision that lead to the creation of Evergreen Community Spaces. I had the opportunity to speak with Artistic Producer Valmai Goggin their move, their funding, and their integration into Mayland Heights. In terms of choosing a location, they wanted something central and accessible. The north-east, said Goggin, is an under-serviced area, with little access resources, and would benefit from the addition of a sustainable, collaborative, and socially responsible space.
Evergreen Theatre knew they would not be able to qualify for a traditional loan. After searching for non-traditional funding models and secured funding with the Social Enterprise Fund in Edmonton. After applying and securing a mortgage through the fund, the company was able to purchase their new home and begin revamping the space. Goggin and her team could not be happier with the results, saying “we have partners that are invested more than just financially. They want the entire project to succeed.” The funding through the Social Enterprise Fund also allows Evergreen Theatre to give back to the community in a unique way, with the interest they pay on the mortgage going back in to the endowment fund. “We’re supporting other projects in the community,” Goggin stated, “simply by making mortgage payments.”
When asked about the impact that the new space has had on the community, Goggin was quick to point out that they are the new neighbour in the area and that they want to be respectful of the work already being done to revitalize the area. The introduction of Evergreen Community Spaces to Mayland Heights is just “part of the ongoing resurgence of the north-east” she said. They’ve begun facilitating access to programming in the community, providing a dozen different programming streams. They’ve also started renting office spaces in the building to create a diverse internal community and to get more people coming through the building. “We want to be known in the community, to have good neighbour connections. True community building is the best form of integration,” said Goggin, excited for the work to be continued in 2016.
The new space is simply beautiful, featuring a brand new cafe, modern rooms for meetings and dance classes, and plenty of local art. Best of all, it’s completely open to the public. Encouraging all Calgarians to come experience Evergreen Theatre’s new home, Goggin said “we have an open door policy. We want people to wander in and poke around.”