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The Cube's curtains set to rise

And once open, they won't be closing

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The Cube’s problematic curtains will open for the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival’s kickoff Thursday.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The Cube’s problematic curtains will open for the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival’s kickoff Thursday. Photo Store

The curtain will rise on the summer festival season at Old Market Square with no long-term solution for the problematic curtains on the Cube.

The metal skin on the hypermodernist outdoor stage will be pinned open all summer once repairs and alterations to the structure are completed today, say officials with the City of Winnipeg and the Exchange District Business Improvement Zone.

The Cube was shuttered last summer due to safety concerns about the aluminum "chain-mail" curtains. Ever since the stage was completed in 2010, technicians responsible for raising and lowering the curtains were unable to figure out a safe and consistent means of doing so.

Over the past week, city workers have repaired faulty lights on the city-owned structure, installed a new, specially fabricated door at the rear and built gates to restrict access to the stage's control panel and its seldom-glimpsed second floor, said Brian Timmerman, executive director for the Exchange BIZ.

The curtains, however, will simply be pinned open before the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival begins using the stage on Thursday and will remain open until September, Timmerman said.

"We made the decision to keep the curtains up for the whole season," he said, explaining the new gates will allow the structure to remain open.

Once it's closed in the fall, a new lighting controller will finally allow the Cube to illuminate Old Market Square at night all winter, as originally intended, Timmerman added.

"We're going to have the Cube glowing and doing what it was supposed to do," he said.

No new city money was spent on repairs and alterations to the Cube, city spokeswoman Michelle Bailey said in a statement. Over the past week, city workers have conducted about $50,000 worth of renovations to Old Market Square, mostly on accessibility improvements such as new handrails, Bailey said.

Timmerman said all the work should be completed today to ensure the jazz festival has no problems on Thursday. Paul Nolin, the festival's executive director, said he's satisfied with the decision to simply keep the Cube's curtains open all summer.

"Whether or not they can be raised or lowered for other people is irrelevant, as long as they are open for my event," he quipped. "Obviously, the Cube's functionality needs to be improved. Everyone's working hard on that."

The $1.2-million stage has won awards for Winnipeg's 5468796 Architecture, which designed the structure.

In April, city officials said they would consider legal action to recover the cost of amending the building. To date, no one has disclosed the price tag for the repairs.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 12, 2013 B1

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