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Federal budget includes money for Toronto’s Massey Hall

Legendary singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot leaves the stage at Massey Hall in Toronto April 10, 2012.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

Plans for a refurbished and expanded Massey Hall got what its president and CEO is calling an $8-million "kick-start" from Thursday's federal budget.

In an interview, Charles Cutts said he doesn't know from which envelope the investment is being drawn – it could be from the 10-year, $32.2-billion Community Improvement Fund announced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty – but whatever the source, he's thrilled to see petitions of governments by the Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall in the past five months resulted in Thursday's announcement. "It's the federal government saying, 'We believe in you … you're on your way."

The opportunity to expand Massey Hall, which has occupied the southwest corner of Shuter and Victoria streets since 1894, arose last year courtesy of MOD Developers, which is building a 60-storey tower around the corner from the hall, at 197 Yonge St., where a bank, abandoned for many years, was erected in 1905. MOD is donating a laneway between the rear of the hall and the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre to Mr. Cutts's organization.

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"Massey Hall is tight, especially when it comes to patron amenities, and this is a decisive first step to its revitalization," Mr. Cutts said, adding it's also the first time in the hall's 119-year history its size will increase. He stressed the refurbishment won't result in any change to the footprint of the stage or the original building. Sight lines, however, likely will be improved and seats installed. Concepts for the revamp are being prepared by Marianne McKenna with KPMB Architects. KPMB's previous renovations include Roy Thomson Hall and the Royal Conservatory of Music.

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