New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation

On May 30th, 2013, New Dawn Enterprises announced the purchase of the former Holy Angels High School and Convent.


The two adjoined buildings represent 80,000 square feet of space on 2.77 acres of land in Sydney’s Northend Heritage District.


The convent was operated by the Sisters of Notre Dame; built in 1885 to provide all-girl’s/women’s education. The adjoining high school, opened in 1958 - eventually operated by the local school board; only all girls high school east of Montreal until its closure in 2010


In a little over a year and a half, a great deal of progress has been made on the project; much of it a reflection of the community’s support for repurposing of the property. Given the well-maintained and recently-occupied state of the high school, we were able to begin to use this building immediately. 


Modeled after the Centres for Social Innovation in Toronto and New York, the high school is well on its way to becoming the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation: a place where small businesses, not-for-profits and charitable organizations committed to changing the world can come to work, learn and collaborate.


With the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation almost fully occupied, and a year-long Future Uses Study having drawn to a close, New Dawn now turns its attention more fully to the restoration work required on the 1885 Convent.


Together, we see these buildings as providing an opportunity to further expand the creative and innovations economies in the CBRM.


The Lord Future Uses Study, enabled in part by the CBRM, found a great deal of support for this position. The study also concluded that the buildings themselves are quite sound with many years of use left in them and that the project as presently proposed can expect to be financially sustainable by year three of operations.


Envisioned as a Centre for Arts and Culture, the convent will require somewhat greater system updates and we are committed to undertaking these in a way that respects and preserves the interior and exterior heritage qualities and spirit of the building. We have come to see the four floors of the 40,000 square foot building as the future home of Cape Breton theater groups, dance studios, musicians, writers and a culinary centre. 


These are many of the business and organizations who have come to call the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation home, our permanent tenants, or who use regularly or periodically our flex space – gymnasium, lounge, boardroom, and training classrooms. These tenants and users have included: ova Stream (formerly Shot on Site Media), Celtic Colours Festival Box Office, The Art Room, Kindermusik, Forrester School of Dance, Cabot and Rose, ICEAP ACCESS Program, Cooperative Study Club (CBU), Uhma Institute of Technology (UIT), New Dawn Homecare, Corey Katz Photography, Cape Breton Music Industry Cooperative, All Kids Early Intervention, Enter Left Productions/The Savoy Theatre, Cape Breton Orchestra, Coalition for Social Justice, All for the Love of Singing (Bev Niven), Cape Breton Gaelic Society, Martha Associates, Taking the Stage (Robyn Cathcart), Aboriginal Peoples Commission of Nova Scotia, Triathlon Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Stage Company, Pathways to Employment, Hospice Palliative Care Society of CB, Cape Breton Partnership, The Carousel Players, Cape Breton Special Olympics, Homeless Partnering Community Strategy, Weirdbeard Puppet Troupe Springtide Collective, TEDx Cape Breton, and CBRM Recreation 

As we continue to make progress on both the former high school and the convent, we see the uniqueness of each part of the project emerging more clearly. 


It is our hope that the former high school, the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation, will continue to be characterized by:


  • A mix of permanent tenants and flex space users
  • For-profit, not-for-profit and charitable organizations & businesses that are united by a desire to change the world
  • A focus on innovation, digital media, learning, and education
  • And possible future incubation and co-working space


We see the Centre for Arts a Culture being host to:


  • Small private artist studios for dancers, visual artists, creative writers, and musicians   
  • A Culinary Institute of Cape Breton
  • Residences for conferences, summer camps, local events
  • Artists-in-Residence programs  
  • Small, intimate performances in the former Chapel
  • Shared Rehearsal Space
  • Arts Administration Offices, and
  • Conference/Community Space 

For more information on the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation, please contact Douglas MacLennan, New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation Facilities and Business Manager at 902-539=8729 Ext. 222 or [email protected]

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The New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation is a shared work, meeting, learning, rehearsal, performance space in Sydney's historic Northend. Contact: 902-539-8729
Accessibility Accessible Parking Directory Venues (Entertainment, Meeting, Community) Location CBRM Sydney North End


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