Discovering Manitoba

Watson Art Centre, Dauphin: From Town Hall to Concert Hall

The building that houses the Watson Art Centre in Dauphin was originally built in 1905 as the Town Hall. Over the years the building has been home to the Fire Station, the RCMP detachment, the library and ARC Industries. Then in 1973, with the building facing demolition, a group of local arts supporters took over managing it under the banner of the Dauphin and District Allied Arts Council.

About 10 years later, the name was changed to the Watson Art Centre in honour of one the group’s leaders, Dr. Vernon Watson, a local dentist, musician and painter. The Watson Art Centre gallery holds rotating shows of Manitoba artists every six weeks, and runs regular art classes and workshops for the community.

The Centre also hosts a five-concert main stage series every year with other performance events in the Old Fire Hall. The 2009-2010 concert series kicked off on Friday, October 23 with Lee Harvey Osmond, a Canadian band with the coolest moniker in ages. The band offers an adventurous sonic journey steered by Tom Wilson from Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, creating an intoxicating blend of country, rockabilly, blues, rock and jazz that has been dubbed “acid folk.”

Manitoba fiddler and singer, Sierra Noble ,comes to the Watson Art Centre on Friday, January 22. The 18-year-old opened for Paul McCartney on his most recent Halifax show, and she has captivated audiences in Canada and Europe with her skillful execution of Metis jigs and reels and classical pieces and everything in between. The JD Edwards Band concludes the main stage series on March 10, with their intense electric folk rock experience.

On February 17, the Manitoba Theatre Centre touring production Tempting Providence will be in town, with tickets on sale from November 14. The Watson Art Centre also holds monthly open mic evenings of spoken word, poetry and original music in the Old Fire Hall. Concert series season passes $80; individual shows $20 each. Old Fire Hall shows $10 each.

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