Kingston launches its own “Tett Offensive of the Arts”

Tett Centre Grand Opening (photo: Julie Fossitt)

By Hollie Pratt-Campbell

On Jan. 30, 2015, the 47th anniversary of the Vietnam War’s historic Tet Offensive, Kingston launched its own Tett offensive, of sorts – this one of an arts nature. 

At least that’s how Queen’s Principal and noted historian Daniel Woolf put it when speaking at the official grand opening of The Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, right before Mayor Bryan Paterson handed over the ‘ceremonial key fob’ to Tett board chairs Anne Kojima and Patty Petkovich.

Now that the building’s construction is complete, the spotlight has turned from the City of Kingston to the Tett Centre for Creativity and Leaning’s board as they begin operation of the new facility. 

“It’s fantastic to be able to come to this point after many years of discussion and planning and designing and building,” said the City’s Cultural Director, Colin Wiginton, noting that the project has been in development for the last 10 years.

Wiginton explained that the Tett’s presence allows the art groups now housed in the building to be much more visible; members of the public can walk the halls of the Tett and view the work of the Kingston School of Dance, Modern Fuel, The Kingston Handloom Weavers and Spinners and more through big, bright windows. 

“People can see what they’re doing and how they can get involved…[That sends the message that] the arts are not just something you go visit as an audience member, but something you can participate in.”

Increased collaboration between the arts groups is another significant advantage of the new building. 

“They’re starting to work with each other, which is what we really hoped would happen,” Wiginton said. “It’s fantastic to see that kind of dynamic playing out.”

And the collaboration doesn’t stop there: 

“Of course we’re also forming relationships with Queen’s University and the Bader Centre next door. We have this ‘arts campus’ now - it’s a bridge between the university and the arts and the community.”

The historically appropriate date wasn’t the only nod to the past at the Tett’s grand opening. The malting tower, in which the ceremony was held, was designed to allow the building resemble Morton’s Brewery, which stood on the site in the mid-19th Century. 

“The fact that we were able to recreate the original 19th century profile with the malting tower also is a nice nod to the industrial history of Kingston,” said Wiginton. “It helps to tell the history of our community in a new and creative way.”

At the end of the ceremony, colourful confetti fell from the rafters of the tower and everybody clapped and cheered. 

“It’s a beautiful building,” Wiginton remarked. “I think it’s already bringing to the city a real heightened sense of the arts and creativity.”

Kingston Mayer Bryan Paterson

Mayor Bryan Paterson and Tett Centre co-chairs Patty Petkovich and Anne Kojima.
Photo by Hollie Pratt-Campbell