Chapter 7, The Story of D’Arts et de rêves…

Introduction

On July 3, 2021, the artists’ residence and Studios DAR Sutton reopened, giving us the opportunity to write a new chapter in the The Story of D’Arts et de rêves.

You probably know that this story began in the December 2016 newsletter.  In the first chapter, we started with the official inauguration on June 18, 2016 and in the following chapters, we went back in time...

So from chapter to chapter, you learned how this dream had taken shape; the origin of the name D'Arts et de rêves; the challenges, surprises, and various steps and chores that led to the first official activity at 57, Principale Street North, namely the Monumentum International Sculpture Symposium; how the residence was set up; the addition of a second bedroom; the outline of the five-year landscaping plan; the achievements of 2017; the observation cocoon project; and the incredible contribution of the many volunteers and the indispensable and faithful support of many partners and sponsors...

In the sixth and final chapter published in April 2018, we shared with you the plans to transform the barn into a venue that would allow D'Arts et de rêves to truly stand out.

In this new chapter, the seventh in the series, we tell the story of the reopening of Studios DAR Sutton on July 3, 2021 and describe changes to the plans (presented in Chapter 6) with photos clearly demonstrating the before and after, 2016 and 2021.  You will understand why we are so proud of this transformation, which now allows us to welcome literary, visual, and circus artists 12 months a year, in a well-designed, bright, and safe environment.

Chapter 7

The entire D'Arts et de rêves team was on site on July 3, 2021 to inaugurate the D'Arts et de rêves artists’ residency and the Studios DAR Sutton, which had been closed for over a year.

There were also two other surprises to be unveiled to the public on that day:

two imposing sculptures that everyone can now admire when walking on the trails of the D'Arts et de rêves Cultural Park.

Just a reminder...

The last fifteen months had not been easy for D'Arts et de rêves:

  • no artists in residence because of the construction work, therefore loss of income;
  • no cultural mediation activities, so less visibility for the population;
  • COVID-19, therefore:
    • imposed confinement and distancing;
    • teleworking, fewer spontaneous interactions;
    • lack of social contacts;
    • difficulty reaching people and various organisations that are usually loyal collaborators, donors, and associates of D'Arts et de rêves;
    • decreased stimuli, energy, and motivation;
    • MusArt 2020 fundraiser held via ZOOM, so:
      • the vitality and enthusiasm usually found at an in-person auction wasn’t quite there
      • and fewer funds were raised;
    • no gathering in the D'Arts et de rêves Cultural Park;
  • major work to transform the barn into a multifunctional creative space, therefore very significant sums required...

In short, the last year had been quite a challenge....

The official opening

The work, which began in June 2020 and was supposed to last a year, was completed on schedule!  What a nice surprise, what a pleasure, such comforting news after these uncertain times.  This is why the management, the D'Arts et de rêves team, and many volunteers were more than happy to invest time, energy, and contagious good humour in preparing for this reopening:  this event just had to be celebrated.

Think about it, once the major work was finished, we had to do some serious clean-up, reorganize the residence and the two studios, clear the area around the barn, imagine the celebration, launch the invitations, hope for good weather, and finally welcome the guests and people from Sutton and the surrounding areas who wanted to be there to celebrate the reopening of the Studios DAR Sutton.

Smooth operation…

Early in the morning of July 3, a team of volunteers went to work to finish up a few things in the residence and to set up the site.  We were afraid it would rain, the weather being grey...

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Natasha Evoy and Pierre Surprenant set up the tent.

Marianne Lévesque and François Bérard hang and identify the artwork that will be auctioned off during the MusArt fundraising event in August.

Gilles Lavoie installs curtains in one of the rooms.

Natasha Evoy prepares signposts to direct people through the park.

From 12:30 on, there were guided tours of Studios A and B and the artists' residence, in small groups of course, in order to comply with COVID-19 sanitary measures.  All those who had seen the old barn were surprised and quite delighted to discover this new multi-functional space, large, bright, well laid out, and ready to receive artists working in the three disciplines supported by D'Arts et de rêves.

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Jean Roy gives a tour of Studio A.

Jean-Jacques Pillet gives a tour of Studio B.

The barn as seen from the street, February 2018
nouvelle grange (photo AGA)

The barn as seen from the street:  February 2018, June 2021

During this time, young and old alike were able to :

  • Admire the agility of Nathalie Nicolas of Cirkazou, a circus artist who strolled through the grounds on stilts and ensured all those who greeted her smile;
  • Walk around while enjoying the jazz background provided by André Lafleur and Rémy Cremona, two musicians known as the Lafleur Cremona Group,
  • Enjoy a treat and refreshing drinks provided by LA FAMILLE-BUVETTE DE VILLAGE, the new neighbours of Studios DAR Sutton.  On the photo on the right below, we can see Sandra Jarry hiding behind her mask.
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At 2 p.m., Laur Fugère, vocalist and vocal coach, succeeded, with a gentle and soothing song, in catching our attention and having us focus on the beginning of the opening ceremony.

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Then Joanie Leroux-Côté, secretary-treasurer of D'Arts et de rêves, the master of ceremonies of this festive day, gave us a warm welcome.

She next handed the mike over to Nicole Côté, President and CEO, who was very moved to see so many people gathered after the isolation of COVID-19.

It was as if the Cultural Park was coming back to life!  Nicole thanked us for being there for D'Arts et de rêves, and then took a few minutes to present the project.

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The guests of honour

Representatives of the following organizations who have been loyal supporters of D’Arts et de rêves, some since its inception, were invited to speak about their commitment to the project.

  1. Lyne Bessette, Member of Parliament for Brome Missisquoi and representative of Heritage Canada
  2. Johanne Gauvin, Political Attaché representing the Provincial Member of Parliament for Brome-Missisquoi
  3. Céline Prévost, Director of the Caisse Populaire Desjardins de Brome-Missisquoi
  4. Patrick Melchior, Prefect of the Brome-Missisquoi MRC (Regional County Municipality)
  5. Michel Lafrance, Mayor of the town of Sutton

All recognized the contribution of Studios DAR Sutton to the artistic community and to the life of the Sutton community.

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Nicole has the last word…

Joanie handed the mike back to Nicole who emphasized the immeasurable contribution of the people who work at D'Arts et de rêves: the team, the Board of Directors, the members of the various committees, all the volunteers, the sponsors, the partners, the organizations represented by the guests of honour, that is to say, all those who, on a regular or occasional basis, help D'Arts et de rêves to grow and forge a place and a reputation for itself in the artistic and community world.

The Park comes alive...

At around 3 p.m., the press conference, that is the official opening, was over and the Cultural Park came alive:

  • André Lafleur and Rémy Cremona had set up shop at the entrance to the trails and were happily playing their jazzy sounds for the pleasure of all those who crossed the bridge.
  • André Fournelle was on site to answer questions from those who were seeing for the first time L'Interdit Damoclèse, the monumental sculpture that André so generously donated to the D'Arts et de rêves Cultural Park.
  • Circus artists from the group Cirkazou, installed in the park's Agora, invited children to discover their circus skills.
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  • Don Davidson's Vroom sculpture, shining red and pointing straight up to the sky, pleasantly surprised the walkers at the end of a trail.
  • Guided tours of Studios A and B and the artists' residence were offered until late afternoon!

All in all, it was a beautiful day and the grey skies only shed a few tears in the late afternoon as people were leaving.  All those who passed through the Studios DAR Sutton and the Park on that July 3 were happy to have joined the other friends and fans of D'Arts et de rêves.

Studios DAR Sutton, 2021 version

Transforming this century-old barn into a multi-functional creative environment was the biggest project D'Arts et de rêves had ever planned and carried out.  Before any work could be undertaken though, it was necessary to secure some of the required funding.  A request was made to Heritage Canada, which in 2019 granted us $440,000, the first partner to support us for this project.  Then it was all hands on deck in terms of fundraising and coming up with a financial package.

Work officially began on June 8, 2020 and was completed by mid-June 2021, a success considering that the pandemic affected all sectors of the construction industry and that the difficulty in obtaining materials to match the availability of the various trades played tricks on more than one occasion.

The original plans were designed by the engineering firm CTD Inc. which was founded by Pascal Lamy and specializes in construction engineering.  The plans produced by Mr. Lamy's team gave the executive a clear picture of the renovation project.  However, Mr. Lamy withdrew from the project because he lived on the North Shore of Montreal and did not wish to continue working on the project.

Mr. Lamy, however, left his mark on the D'Arts et de rêves Cultural Park because he is the one who designed the bridge that crosses the creek, ensuring that it was up to par in order to allow the passage of heavy trucks, e.g., the trucks that transported the materials to make the pathway to the Hydro Quebec section.

This bridge and pathway had to accommodate 10-wheel trucks, important for transporting the heavier sculptures, as well as trucks used by circus companies who will come with their equipment to set up shows in the Agora.

When we look at the photos of the plans published in Chapter 6 of The Story of D’Arts et de rêves and see the photos below, we can see that there have been changes to the plans originally presented for the transformation of the barn.

(Drawings taken from the plan of CTD Inc.) Exterior pilasters made of concrete will serve as the base for the new arches of glue-laminated wood.
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(Dessin du plan de CTD inc.)
Exterior pilasters made of concrete were to serve as the base for the new arches of glue-laminated wood.

The cement wall on the left, well anchored into the ground, is a support wall like the one built into the back of the rooms that have been added to the barn.  This is what keeps the structure strong.

The floor on the upper floor of the barn will be removed to create a larger space.
(Drawings taken from the plan of CTD Inc.) Upstairs, the interior will take on a whole new look as the arches will be moved outside the barn, thus freeing up space inside the barn.
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View of the upper level of the barn, the floor would be removed to create a larger space.

(Drawings taken from the plan of CTD Inc.)
Seen from the mezzanine, the interior would take on a whole new look.

Photo taken from the mezzanine.  What are the differences between the two photos on the left and this one?  The vertical window that so abundantly illuminates Studio A and fewer beams because the support has been integrated into the structure.

Why these changes in the structure and arches?

The arrival of a new engineer called into question the original plans.  Jacques Chartrand, a founding member of the NCK structural engineering firm in Montreal, visited the barn and the site.  He said that it was possible to do things differently, and he made a generous proposal.  D'Arts et de rêves therefore immediately decided to work with him and his firm.

Mr. Chartrand produced sketches and recommended that we not proceed as originally envisioned.  He said that the aesthetics of the barn could be maintained while ensuring the solidity of the structure with a cement panel in the front as a supporting wall and another at the back which would be integrated into the rooms that would be added to the barn.  This would give us more space and additional rooms.  Martin Boisvert took over from Mr. Chartrand (who died in Montreal on December 14, 2019) in January 2020.

This staircase provides access the top floor but the transverse beams leave little space to maneuver.

This staircase used to provide access to the top floor but the transverse beams left little space to maneuver.

There used to be three rooms.  The smallest was eliminated to:

  • create a space with a sink and shelves,
  • build the staircase (you can see the first step at the bottom right of the photo) leading to Studio B;
  • install a storage space (that's the closed door to the left of the sink)...

The third bedroom is part of the extension that was built behind the barn (this is the open door to the left of the photo).

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The stairs as seen from the upper floor.

The staircase to Studio B and the mezzanine is now accessible from inside the artists' residence.

“Studio A" used to be divided into two levels, you can see the steps leading up to it.  However, you should know that it was not really a studio, but rather a large storage space.

The horse that once housed in this stall was fortunate enough to have two windows!
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The horse that once housed in this stall was quite lucky to have two windows!  That horse would be happy today to see so much light penetrating its former habitat.

Photo taken from the ground floor, in Studio A:   you can see the mezzanine and the door to Studio B upstairs.  The floor that can be seen in the photo on the left has disappeared, freeing up the space in Studio A.

Other notable transformations include...

  • A completely new roof
  • An additional bathroom
  • An additional bedroom
  • An internal ventilation system
  • Fans
  • Well thought out lighting
  • Storage in the extension at the back

We are proud to have been able to:

  • Open up the space.
  • Remove beams and partitions, which creates large spaces.
  • Keep the original beams made from trees.  We built on top of them!
  • Insulate with blown insulation (the original beams were made of tree trunks so they were irregularly shaped, we had to blow to insulate properly).
  • Insulate over the roof and under the roof.
  • Insulate the cement floor.

All this in order to receive artists in residence 12 months a year and to give them a pleasant, airy, bright, and well-appointed working environment...

Next steps

The barn has been beautifully transformed.  We just have to give it an environment that does it honour by carrying out our landscaping plan. Thanks to La Roche Posée Paysagiste, the first phase of this work will be completed this autumn.

Approximately 70% of the funds needed have been obtained thanks to the Ministry of Culture; 30% of the funds required are still missing. We are confident that the funds will materialize in time for the Spring of 2022, allowing us to finish the landscaping according to plan, namely planting of trees, shrubs and perennials around the residence.

We might be dreaming, but this is D'Arts et de rêves, right?

 

Liliane Lessard