Harmony Centre Owen Sound

Harmony Centre Explained

May 8, 2024

Since this grand old building was saved from an uncertain fate more than a decade ago, Harmony Centre has emerged as a cultural nucleus for Owen Sound that stands tall as a testament to the spirit of community life. Yet Harmony Centre remains among the least understood venues of its kind.

“It’s hard to describe the many facets of Harmony Centre,” says board chair Lynda Chiotti. “It’s a performance hall, a community centre, a meeting space; a place to work, to practice, and to network.”

Chiotti explains that, while the building’s centrepiece is the famous 650-seat Greaves Auditorium, it’s other lesser-known spaces give Harmony Centre its driving energy. In fact, many are unaware that the sprawling structure also boasts a large multi-function room, banquet hall, commercial grade kitchen, board room, as well as practice rooms, studios, and office space.

“That’s where the spirit of Harmony Centre lives,” says Chiotti. “Walking into the building on any given day, one is immediately struck by the infectious energy of the place.”

Harmony Centre today is indeed a beacon of creativity that reflects the diverse interests and passions found in southwestern Ontario. It’s home to music and vocal instructors, fitness and wellness groups, small businesses, multi-media artists, and a wide array of community organizations.

As a charitable organization, Harmony Centre’s mandate is to serve the community. Groups and individuals based here enjoy low, and in many cases, subsidized rent. Harmony Centre performances are frequently pay-what-you-can events so they’re accessible to all segments of society.

“We operate as a social enterprise” explains Lynda Chiotti. “Our priority is to remain available and accessible to the whole community. Our mission is to enrich our region by providing a place to share, create, educate, and perform.”

So far, Harmony Centre has enjoyed a good deal of success meeting these objectives. So much so in fact that it has attracted major government and private sector funding to modernise the 150-year-old structure. New windows, high-efficiency heat pumps, ramps, accessible washrooms, and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems – all improvements that reflect a real commitment to the place by people whose business it is to find – and fund – well-run and promising ventures.

But according to Lynda Chiotti, Harmony Centre’s most valuable assets are its volunteers. “We’re always delighted to welcome new energy and talent to our organization,” she says, adding that they encourage members of the public to consider volunteering as an usher, join their maintenance crew, enquire about sitting on the board of directors or one of its committees, or explore opportunities for creative collaboration with the organization.

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