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Apartment Crush | Office Edition: Festival House serves as a community arts hub

By Kenneth Ingram on July 30, 2014

During renovations, Festival House, July 2013. Image provided by Ottawa Festivals.

During renovations, Festival House, July 2013. Image provided by Ottawa Festivals.

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Festival House officially opened in early May and unites many of Ottawa’s festival and event planners under one roof. Apartment613 and Kimberly McCarthy-Kearney, the Outreach Coordinator for Ottawa Festivals, take you through the new office spaces that were created inside a former church that dates back over one-hundred years:

Apt613: Tell us about how the former Westboro United Church became your new location?

Kimberly: Bluesfest was gifted this church under the premise that they would turn it into sort of a community, music, arts, aspect. It had long been his dream [Mark Monahan, one of the founding members of Ottawa Festivals and Bluesfest’s executive director] to have festivals working collaboratively with each other. So it’s been a long-term dream to have a Festival House.



What is Festival House?

It gets a tiny bit confusing. Ottawa Festivals is an umbrella organization where we have members that are festivals and events. We provide member services [that include] primarily marketing, promotion, a cohesive presence on the web, [and we are] getting into some advocacy work [and] some HR management for them.

Festival House is made up of BluesFest and Folk Festival on the second level. We, Ottawa Festivals, is a member-based organization [located] on the main level, and we split half of that with the actual Festival House, which is [where] smaller festivals rent small flex space. That’s where you get the collaborative interaction.

The Bluesfest School of Music is brand new. They have evening classes, summer camps, and March Break camps.

The renovations took place for about a year, converting the interior into its present form, including the Bluesfest School of Music and Art (BSOMA) located in the basement. Over 35 youth and family classes will be available and registration, according to the website, opens online August 1st.



What are some of your favorite aspects of the new space?

Just the newness of it. Having the modern, sleek equipment and furniture, primarily, [that in a way enables] the dynamics of the people [working here]. And the large beams [in the ceiling] add a lot, including the stained glass [windows] everywhere.

Office furniture throughout the main level was provided by Party Time Rentals and offers a punchy, grounded contrast to the perimeter of stained glass windows that reach towards the ceiling. Organ flue pipes, once removed from the church, were refitted on the second level. They create a backdrop for the conference table on one side of the room and on the other, provide a corridor where restrooms are located near the back.

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 2.54.23 PM


What are the potential downsides to the new office space?

There are fewer visitors compared to the previous location in the ByWard Market. We’ve had some interesting conversations [with visitors to this new location] though.

One man stopped by [to purchase event tickets] and said he had been married here [when it was a church]. Other people have stopped by and said they were baptized here.

main level reception area for Ottawa Festivals


Festival House is located at 450 Churchill Ave. N in Westboro. Ottawa Festivals is a ticket outlet for Ticketpro, CapitalTickets and Ticketmaster, and is an offsite box office and information hub for a number of our member festivals and events. Their hours are from 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday and 10am – 5 pm on Saturday.