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HomeArts & CultureThe Khyber’s long summer

The Khyber’s long summer

(Photo by Adele Van Wyke)
(Photo by Adele Van Wyke)

Things have never been grimmer for the Khyber Art Society (KAS). Having been evicted from their historic property on Barrington Street earlier this year (ever listen to Joel Plaskett’s Down at the Khyber?), the group is in the midst of their biggest struggle: the preservation of Halifax’s key arts and LGBQT hub. Here’s a brief breakdown of 2014’s key moments for the society.

Jan. 2014: The Khyber, located at 1588 Barrington St., is closed “temporarily” due to the presence of asbestos on-site. Officials estimate that the removal of hazardous materials can take from six to 18 months.

April 2014: After 20 years as the hub of Halifax’s arts community, the doors of the Khyber on Barrington are shut for good. The KAS is told to vacate as the building’s state of disrepair has gone beyond the issue of asbestos and is unfit for habitation.

Shortly Thereafter: The KAS is granted $45,000 from the HRM to cover the mortgage of a new property and to cover moving expenses. Council has promised the KAS financial aid for the next three years.

Early-Summer 2014: The Khyber relocates to 5523 Cornwallis St. and continues with regular programming and events.
*July 29 2014*: A report by city staff includes the 1588 Barrington St. property in a listing of “surplus economic development properties.” In the report, the building and property are valued at $1,357,300, and sets the estimated cost of recapitalization at $4,150,945. The report recommends that the property be disposed of.

Late-Summer 2014: The decision over whether or not the property at 1588 Barrington St. will remain as a cultural hub is postponed to a Sept. 9 city council meeting.

Later-Summer 2014: The Friends of the Khyber, a public action group of Halifax artists and advocates, is formed. An online petition is drafted, which urges city councillors to rethink the Khyber’s place as a property of cultural and historic significance.

Sept. 4 2014: A “Save the Khyber” meeting is held at the Halifax North Memorial Public Library. Members of Friends of the Khyber speak alongside Joel Plaskett on the significance of the building.
While at the time of this writing, the outcome of the Sept. 9 council meeting has yet to be determined, the Gazette will continue to report on any developments. Stay tuned.

Mat Wilush
Mat Wilush
Mat Wilush once went to see Agent Orange on the outskirts of Toronto, where the beer was salty and drunken teenagers took turns sitting in a prop electric chair. The music had aged poorly. A mohawk’d middle-ager danced through the first couple songs, but quickly tired out. There just isn’t much room for surf rock in the world anymore. What next? Mat Wilush wants to know. Mat is the Gazette's Arts Editor. Follow him on Twitter at @wilushwho and email him at arts@dalgazette.com.
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