New Room – New Beginnings

Category: community 666

Two Fredericton artists team up to curate a new event space in the city’s downtown.

Matt Carter
The Empire, as it looked earlier this month. Griffiths and Stevens have been working around the clock to complete renovations before the space makes it’s official debut on July 31.

It’s amazing what a little spit and polish can do. Since moving into his new studio space last spring, Fredericton photographer Chris Griffiths has wanted the place to be more than just a co-working environment and the headquarters for his business, Bang-On Photography.

Once home to the Centre of Arts and Technology, the space located on the third floor at 117 York Street in downtown Fredericton came equipped with a pair of soundproof recording studios. And after removing a few walls, soundproofing the ceiling, adding new light fixtures and stripping the floor, it now has a large room with plenty of natural light and space to accommodate Griffiths’ day job and a lot more.

“I moved in here because I outgrew my old studio,” said Griffiths. “I was on the hunt for a big space because I do a lot of portraiture and corporate work and I often need the room. But I also wanted a space where I could do other things like music related stuff.”

To help explore the possibilities of this new room, Griffiths teamed up with local musician and organizer Penelope Stevens. For the past few weeks, the two have been working to transform this top floor studio into what they hope will become a multipurpose gallery and performance space for curated events.

Stevens is a member of the Fredericton art-rock trio Motherhood and is also the current president of Music NB. She has been on the hunt for both a permanent practice location for her band and a space to host all-ages music events outside of the bar scene for some time.

“We’ve been looking for a place where we can rehearse and store our gear,” said Stevens. “Plus, we’re all really tired of hurting our ears so having these soundproof studios is a huge help. We can actually play at really low volumes and it sounds great. And the advantage of having a larger room to do things in is nice.

“Our intention with this room is to curate events based around artists that we really care about and to keep it close to the heart,” she said. “The idea is that every event we put together will be something special to us and hopefully to the musicians or artists involved.”

The first event at The Empire will happen July 31 with performances by Motherhood (Fredericton), USSE (Saint John) and 2019 Polaris Music Prize shortlist favourites, FET.NAT.

“I’ve always wanted to have a space to work on things outside of my Monday to Friday career,” said Griffiths. “By being able to host music events or even art shows, this space will allow us to cultivate creativity.”

FET.NAT + USSE + MOTHERHOOD | July 31 | The Empire – 117 York St | Doors at 8:00 p.m. – Show at 8:30 | $10 | View Event

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