LDS Donates Church Building to Establish New Arts Building in Taber | Spare News
Soon, Taber Assisting Nations through Global Outreach (TANGO) will move into Taber Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 5314 54th Street, as it is given to them. A ceremony will be held Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. to officially hand over the church to TANGO who planned to loan it to the Society for Taber Arts and Recreation (STAR) when not in use by TANGO. Taber Stake President Mark Baldry was able to provide more information about the reasons for this exchange between LDS and TANGO.
“Our numbers aren’t diminishing, but the way we come together and worship has changed over time,” Baldry said. “It is a very old building which has been renovated many times and which was going to require major work to improve the heating system in particular. It was determined that this would not be done, so we were looking to mothball the building (preserving a long-term building as long as it is not occupied). When we got to this point, some of the local community groups, especially Dr. (Ryan) Torrie and some of the organizations he was associated with, asked if the church could consider selling or donating the building to these community groups . We walked this road, looked at some of the pros and cons, and basically the church felt a strong need to leave the building standing – and so did our local leaders. We didn’t want it to be taken apart and sold, but rather we wanted it to be a continued blessing to our community.
As this is a building that has been in the community for over 100 years, the LDS wishes to preserve its legacy in the community. With that in mind, Baldry mentioned a concern raised in their discussion to donate it.
“A few groups got together and figured out how they could revamp the building into something that would bless our community and we presented it to the church,” Baldry said. “The church was very keen on this idea, but they wanted to make sure the group had a proper plan for the church and that it wouldn’t go in someone else’s name and then become an eyesore to the community. The groups presented their visions of the change in use of the building. Over time it was determined that it would work and the church would be happy to donate this building. Those who are going to use it have come up with what they think are affordable solutions for the heating and cooling systems of the building – which is to be renovated – and it became clear that it would be a win-win situation for everyone. .
As a key member of the two organizations that will use the building after its donation, Ryan Torrie, President of TANGO and STAR, shared his excitement about the donation and spoke about the challenges they faced when trying to acquire a building for the arts in Taber. .
“We’re super excited,” Torrie said. “We have worked with the City for years. For the past 20 years, the artistic community of Taber has tried to secure a permanent home for Taber players and a place for musical performances, a choir, a practice (and class) place for music teachers and a facility where they can continue their activities. About 10 years ago I was on the advisory board for the town of Taber trying to find a way to get a music facility or an art facility built and I had a hard time finding a facility. We were trying to get grants from the federal government, which we couldn’t get, and then we looked at other buildings in town, so it was quite a struggle. Then, over the past couple of years, we discovered that the church was decommissioning that building and looking to donate it to an arts group as a community facility.
Continuing, Torrie discussed the partnership STAR received from local municipal governments as part of the church donation.
“When the church approached us about this, we worked with the City of Taber and the MD of Taber – both are eager to cooperate as a group,” Torrie said. “We had commitments from the City to donate $250,000 as an interest-free loan for 10 years, and the MD of Taber accepted a grant of $200,000. The town of Taber has also agreed to help with utilities for the first year, and as a charity we are able to access property tax exemptions. Our Community Board of the Society for Taber Arts and Recreation, we had to raise $250,000 to receive these grants from the MD of Taber and the City of Taber, and so we all worked together to put this together. As we did, the church agreed to donate the building if we have the backing and support of municipalities and communities. It was super exciting to have a facility for the community and to work with the municipalities to come up with a plan that would make this achievable.
Torrie also provided a broad outline of what STAR plans to do with the building.
“We work with Taber Players – Jocelyn Steinborn is the president of Taber Players – she’s on our board for the Society for Taber Arts and Recreation, so this will be their new home and they’ll be able to store all of their props and costumes under the theater,” Torrie said. “They will stage their future plays in the building. We have many different community groups using the facility. We have plans to work with Lethbridge Symphony and have parts of their symphony to be released. We’re going to have a karaoke night every month – we’re going to occupy the place.
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