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Displays removed from Shania Twain Centre
Facility still operating at a reduced capacity
By Ron Grech, The Daily Press
Updated 3 hours ago
While the city residents’ attention was focused on the threat of forest fires, dramatic changes were quietly occurring at the Shania Twain Centre.
Most of the clothes and displayed items were packaged up and returned to Shania Twain and, Tracey Hautanen, facility’s manager had resigned.
The centre is still operating but at a reduced capacity.
Hautanen is now working more closely with Twain, helping to co-ordinate the singer’s charity, Shania Kids Can
Hautanen said the change didn’t come out of the blue.
The city had been corresponding with Twain’s management for several months prior to the changes and it was clear the city intended to downsize the exhibit area.
“It’s no secret the city has been exploring other options for that facility,” said Hautanen. “It’s been going on for years. Over the past year or year and a half, the city has extensively been looking for other uses for that facility ... It was always my job to ensure that Shania’s management was always kept in the loop. One of the things we never wanted to do was blindside her and say, ‘By the way, it’s now a smaller exhibit.’
“Of course when someone keeps telling you they’re going to downsize, you start thinking of other options for your collection which is what she did.”
She said Twain plans to use some of the exhibits herself to promote her charity as well as her two-year stint performing in Las Vegas which begins in December.
“She is coming up to really launching the charity she has had going for a while,” said Hautanen. “And so she approached the city and asked, ‘Are you still considering downsizing my collection?’ and they said ‘Yes, we are.’ She was fine with that.”
In accordance with the contract her management, Maple Leaf Productions, had signed with the city, 30-days notice was given to package and return most of the collection by May 30.
“I was there to oversee the packing of the collection and ensure there was an exhibit available to the community and then I will oversee the collection being displayed in several other locations throughout Ontario and potentially the United States,” said Hautanen. “Really that showcases Timmins even more because in every display, we will be talking about her hometown of Timmins and the Shania Kids Can program.
“She is going to use the collection and showcase it in different areas to help promote Shania Kids Can which is her charity which she is going full force with.”
“There are some great opportunities to showcase the foundation, to showcase Timmins,” said Hautanen. “It’s not at all a matter of ‘I’m taking my stuff and leaving.’ It’s a more a case of, ‘It’s OK, you don’t need all of it. How can I use it?’”
Hautanen said the door has been left open for many of the exhibits from the collection to return and be displayed in Timmins.
“Once the city determines what it’s doing with that building, the door is always open for more stuff to come back in the meantime, their direction was the downsizing of the exhibit space and she was completely fine with that. She didn’t want to leave them with nothing. This is her hometown. This is where she started one of her first programs for her charity so she wants to continue to be supportive.”
The city’s chief administrator, Joe Torlone, said if an alternative use is to be found for the Shania Twain Centre, administration would be asked to provide a report with recommendations.
At this point, staff has not been directed to provide council with such a report.
“We have a reduced Shania collection because some of it is being used to promote her Vegas opening and a few other things,” said Torlone. “But it’s business as usual. We have the mine tour running, we have a reduced collection, the gift shop is open.
“If we were going to do something with that, we would then make a recommendation to council but at this time there is nothing that is being prepared for council’s consideration.”
Hautanen had been with the Shania Twain Centre since since it opened on July 1, 2001.
She said she now will be working closely with Twain and the singer’s husband Fred Thiébaud, helping to build up the charity that has been operating as a pilot program in both Timmins and Huntsville.
“Shania Kids Can is an initiative she has started in the schools to ensure kids have healthy nutrition, an adult they can talk to when they need to, extra homework support, any extra guidance that they need is available to them in the school in a designated area whether it is life skills, training and social skills,” said Hautanen. “It is an add-on so that kids get a fair start and there is an equality for all kids and they can go through the gate at the same speed.”