May 23rd, 2024

Roxy Theatre finalist in national competition

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on April 24, 2024.

Submitted photo - The Roxy Theatre in the Crowsnest Pass has been nominated as one of the 12 finalists for the National Trust for Canada's The Next Great Save competition.


The Roxy Theatre in Coleman needs your help. Specifically, a community organization hoping to secure $50,000 to help renovate the facility needs your help.

The Roxy Theatre in Coleman, a National Historic Site in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, has been nominated as one of the 12 finalists for the National Trust for Canada’s The Next Great Save competition this year.

The Next Great Save invites heritage advocates from coast-to-coast to make a case for a $50,000 cash prize that can help to protect, adapt, renew and improve Canada’s historic places.

Online public voting will take place until May 6 on the National Trust’s competition website and members of the public can vote once per day to support the projects they are passionate about.

The winner and runners-up will be announced on May 7. The second place project will earn $10,000 and the third place finisher $5,000.

Fred Bradley, a member of Revive the Roxy Theatre Building Committee and project advisor to Crowsnest CanDo, said in an interview Tuesday that the Roxy is unique in that it is one of only three remaining quonset style theatres in Canada that were created after the American military sold off thousands of surplus quonsets following the Second World War. OF those 140 were made into movie theatres with the Roxy being among them.

“It’s almost one of a kind,” said Bradley in a phone interview, with the only other remaining similar theatres in existence in Canada being in Wainwright and Victoria, B.C.

If the Roxy wins the $50,000, the money will be used to turn it into a community performing arts centre, a facility which the Crowsnest Pass currently doesn’t have. This means performing arts groups have no actual place to perform with one dance group, said Bradley, staging its shows at the Yates in Lethbridge, which brings economic benefit here while taking it out of the Pass.

A revitalized Roxy, he said, would also have economic spinoffs for the tourism industry in the Pass, giving visitors to the region something to do at night which would also help other businesses.

A refurbished Roxy would also facilitate a growing regional arts scene and create a culture hub which would be a catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Coleman. And it would provide a movie theatre for Pass residents.

The Roxy was originally built in 1948 as a theatre and movie house on main street after a fire destroyed the original opera house and until its closure in 2033, played a vital role in the culture of Coleman.

It’s also on the local heritage inventory and was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2022.

Last year Teck Resources donated $250,000 to support the theatre’s restoration.

“It’s a good project for the community,” said Bradley, a five-term former MLA and Alberta Minister of Environment, who was born and raised in the Crowsnest Pass.

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