By Dale Woodard on February 10, 2021.
The Crowsnest Cando – Crowsnest Culture and Recreation Society just completed an impressive Act 1. And this particular production – a crowd pleaser so far – is far from over.
The Crowsnest CanDo Culture and Recreation Society recently announced it had purchased the Roxy Theatre thanks to solid town support that raised nearly $65,000 as part of its Revive the Roxy – Act One Fundraising Campaign to purchase the theatre in downtown Coleman.
Now comes Act 2, revive the theatre as a multi-use community performing arts centre with a target date for completion slated for summer of 2023.
“We’re flabbergasted,” said communication director Howard Vandenhoef of the donations.
“We’re 5,000 people in this community and in the greater area. You get the odd donation from Lethbridge and even as far away as Calgary, but more from the locals. It’s inbelievable how badly they want this thing to go through.”
Vandenhoef said the fundraiser started about three months ago.
“But we’ve really been pushing it in the last month or month-and-a-half. Like most fundraisers it really kicked up steam in the last three weeks. It’s just amazing how quickly we made it past $50,000. I would have been happy to have reached $40,000. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’m very proud of this area.”
In a press release, the Crowsnest Cando – Crowsnest Culture and Recreation Society noted the benefits of a revived Roxy Theatre, including being a multi-use performing arts centre for community groups and travelling artists/performers as well as a catalyst for the art and entertainment district in downtown Coleman.
“We want to incorporate other local theatres to rotate theatrical performances,” said Vandenhoef.
“We’d have acts going here for maybe a month or a few weeks and we’d rotate to another theatre and they would rotate to here. We also want to integrate with high schools and the local schools and get them involved here. It’s virtually endless.”
Vandenhoef said the acoustics in the Roxy Theatre are already great.
“Because it’s kind of a dome, sound really reverberates because it travels right from the stage.”
Among the other spinoffs are benefits for local business, a space for workshops, study space and cultural programming as well as the restoration of an historic building in the Coleman National Historic Site of Canada
“It is a heritage site, so you have to be careful not to ruin any of the heritage components,” said Vandenhoef. “So how you renovate something like that is very important to keep the nostalgia. You need to know exactly what’s weak in the building and what kind of investment you need to bring it up to modern code.”
Now, the Crowsnest Cando – Crowsnest Culture and Recreation Society heads into Act 2 of their plan as they begin the grant application process.
“We need to do engineering studies and planning studies because we need to know what will be involved in renovating,” said Vandenhoef. “We want to raise $100,000 for that and we’ll probably go more toward the corporate donation side to that. We need to take a little bit of a break and see where we’re going from here. It’s been a long haul. It’s been a lot of fun and everyone has enjoyed it, but we need to take a look at what we’ve done and see where we need to go from here.”
The targeted summer of 2023 opening date could be sooner, said Vandenhoef.
“Depending on how we renovate and the steps going forward, we could actually even do performances later on in the renovations.
“If we get the bulk of the work done and it’s only window dressing later on, we could start doing some kind of performances.
“It also depends on how COVID works. If we’re under control there we could be underway really soon.”
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