Even the bagpipes can't compete with the sound of machinery

Work continues on the expansion to the College of Piping in Summerside

Published on May 27, 2017

Roger Downie, business manager of College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, outside the Summerside facility’s new addition, the Scott MacAulay Celtic Performing Arts Centre. The new section, which replaces the college’s old amphitheatre, is expected to be completed by November.

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Walk through the doors of the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada these days and you are as likely to be greeted by the clang of machinery as you are the sound of bagpipes.  

Construction of the new Scott MacAulay Celtic Performing Arts Centre is well underway. The frame of the building is mostly completed and builders are moving to enclose it.

When completed, the structure, which is an addition to the college’s home campus at 619 Water Street East in Summerside, will comfortably seat 300 people in a state-of-the-art theatre designed to handle bagpipe acoustics. An elevator will be installed for wheelchair access and new practice and rehearsal space for teachers and students will be included in the expansion.

The capital campaign for the new arts centre is also ongoing and the project’s price tag of $4.1 million is about 80 per cent funded. Donations to the fund can be made online at www.partnerwithculture.com.

The new facility is expected to open in November.  

It’s an exciting time for everyone at the institution, said Roger Downie, the college’s new business manager.

“We intend to become a beacon for all Island talent,” he said.

Plans are underway to introduce a new fall festival to the college’s offerings on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, which will involve the local Acadian and Mi'kmaq communities.

The new stage will also be available for rent to community groups and others looking for a place to practice or showcase their craft.

“It will be for homegrown Island talent – all kinds of traditional folk, not just Celtic,” said Downie.

That being said, the college’s mandate has always been to promote the Celtic arts, he added, and that mission continues with the addition of a new, to be announced soon, Celtic discipline that will be added to the school’s programming.

The college’s signature summer event, “Highland Storm” will return this summer, despite the construction. A big top tent will be installed in its parking lot and the show will happen there. Parking will be moved to a separate section of the property.

For more information about the College of Piping or the Scott MacAulay Celtic Performing Arts Centre, go online to www.collegeofpiping.com.