Opened in 2010, The Old Blacksmith Art Gallery operates annually from May to October in a rustic venue situated behind the Théâtre Sans Frontières – The old Border Theatre, a place to be renovated for the performing arts program of the Arts Centre. While waiting for renovation, Le Centre des Arts de Stanstead has presented shows including cinema in various venues such as the Café Bar Sans Frontières, the Neverwas Church, the Haskell Opera House and the Stone Circle, an outside park ideal for performances of theatre and dance.
Le Centre des Arts de Stanstead gives access for visual and performing arts to the surrounding population.
When Gabriel Safdie first saw the old Border Cinema house, hidden behind the town’s florist shop in the once bustling Rock Island commercial centre, he had an instant vision of bringing the old cinema back to life, along with some of the heritage buildings adjacent to it, right at the border checkpoint and with the backdrop of the Tomifobia River.
By 2009 his wife, Eva Juul, took charge of the old blacksmith structure on the site and turned it into what has become a thriving art gallery. In the same year Safdie together with a team was responsible for the building of our Stonehenge-like Stone Circle that the Centre des Arts de Stanstead is mandated to use as a venue for our outdoor events. The work then began on the project of resurrecting the old cinema as a full fledged theatre for the performing and cinema.
In 2018 we started out by creating programs under the direction of Luce Couture as programmer, having joined us after her many years of directing the Centennial Theatre. When Christian Williams came on board, having just taken an early retirement from teaching art for many years at Stanstead College, he acted on the idea of getting the college involved it being the well renowned college that holds a significant place in the Stanstead heritage as well as its economy. We now have a commitment from the College to make full range use of the theatre in conjunction with its programming, a collaboration that has the making of a highly complementary relationship.
In 2020, about to complete its second year of featuring the performing arts, Centre des Arts de Stanstead is embarking on a major fundraising for the renovation of the theatre. With the support of the foundations and government agencies as well as our own community, we hope to be opening the doors to the new Théâtre Sans Frontières- The old Border Theatre by 2022.
Board of Directors
Chairman – Gabriel Safdie
Gabriel Safdie was a teacher of literature and creative writing for many years following which he directed a significant family company. He is a writer and photographer and has been deeply involved in theatre and music, as well as the literary and visual arts, throughout his working life. He has served in many arts organizations, having also chaired a good number. Currently he is the founding president of Centre des Arts de Stanstead, the president of Traquen’Art , and vice president of the Stanstead Historical Society’s Colby Museum, on the board of Infinitheatre, and he is involved in the programming of the international literary festival Blue Metropolis. He is currently working on completing a book on his 40 year relationship with China.