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City to itemize deficiencies at the Cube

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The city will draft a comprehensive list of deficiencies at the Cube.

This morning, council's downtown development committee asked Winnipeg's public administration to put together a complete list of things that need to be fixed at the Cube outdoor stage in the Exchange. There are numerous problems that need to be repaired before the stage can be fully functional — including the metal curtain and lights that don't work.

Downtown development chairman Coun. Mike Pagtakhan said there are problems with the curtain and he's heard about rivets popping and electronic issues with the lights. He wants to see the Cube's issues resolved once and for all, he said.

Pagtakhan said the city will review whether there is a maintenance contractor and what their responsibility is. If the deficiencies are a contractor's responsibility, then they will have to pay for it, he said.

"We want it to be fully functional and I think we're going to work towards that," Pagtakhan said.

On Wednesday, Pagtakhan said he wants to explore whether Winnipeg could take legal action for the ongoing issues at the stage. Someone has to take responsibility for it, he said.

The city maintains the venue and the Exchange District BIZ schedules events.

Last year, two weeks of performances were cancelled after the Cube's metal curtain was deemed unsafe to operate when too many rivets popped.

"I just want to see this thing fixed," Pagtakhan said. "It's been dragging on forever and ever since day one."

Raising the Cube's metal curtain has been a challenge since the $1.2-million stage was built in 2010. Initially, the curtains could not be raised high enough to give performers enough headroom or allow access to the stairwell that leads to the upper level.

The problems prompted complaints from performers even as the Cube's designers received international accolades for the iconic structure in Old Market Square.

Cables, wires and clips were installed in 2011 to pin the curtain back more effectively, but they had to be replaced last year when technicians found they were improperly installed.

Musician Keith Price said he did not encounter any problems when he played on the stage twice last year during the jazz festival and a lunchtime concert series.

However, he said larger ensembles might have trouble squeezing into the space and the Cube's designers likely focused more on the architecture rather than its functionality. "(It) needs to be more functional," Price said.

Sasa Radulovic, who designed the stage along with colleague Johanna Hurme of Winnipeg's 5468796 Architecture, said decisions about the Cube's size, height and amenities were made in consultation with stakeholders. He said the Cube has not yet been completed and warranty inspections, lighting and access to the second level will be finished by month's end.

"We're finally clearing up the pieces now," Radulovic said.

Exchange District BIZ executive director Brian Timmerman said the problem with the curtain can be addressed by leaving it open for the summer. Timmerman said other deficiencies are relatively minor -- including the lights, which need to be reprogrammed since they are not performing properly.

The Cube is a one-of-a-kind structure with cutting-edge technology, he said, and it was difficult to know what needed to be fixed until performers started using it. Timmerman said he does not think any of the Cube's summer programming will be affected by the deficiencies, adding major festivals have commited to use the stage.

"Anything that's unique and different (will) have its detractors but you'll have promoters who will love the thing," he said, noting they book up to 70 events every year at the Cube.

Archive video: The Cube in Old Market Square - June 14, 2010

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 11, 2013 B1


Updated on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 6:44 AM CDT: replaces photo

10:41 AM: adds update from Thursday's development committee meeting

12:52 PM: removes contractor maintenance statement.

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