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$374,891 for Kiwanis Theatre improvements (updated)

Friday, January 25, 2013   by: Darren Taylor
Thanks to $374,891 from the federal government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF), improvements will be soon made to the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre.

The improvements to the Theatre will combine for a more enjoyable experience for audiences attending performances at the venue.

Those improvements include approximately 1,000 new seats (replacing current seating, which is now 40 years old), heating and ventilation improvements to cut down on humming noises during performances, and a new foyer for the Theatre.

Sault Ste. Marie MP Bryan Hayes was on hand at the Theatre Friday morning to announce the funding, which is part of a $751,649 contribution for 15 Sault and area projects.

Hayes was introduced by Brian Wilson, past president and technical chair of the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre.

Hayes is pictured above with Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre Board Chair, Peggy Cooper; Arts Council of Sault Ste. Marie and District Executive Director, Sandra Houston; and Algoma District School Board of Trustees Chair, Jennifer Sarlo.

The ADSB will be providing matching funds for the renovation project.

Cooper told the media Friday the renovations will begin as soon as possible and hopefully complete by the end of the summer.

Algoma Fall Festival performers will likely be the first major entertainers showcased at the renovated Theatre.

Cooper said the Theatre’s current middle aisle will be gone, to be replaced by long single rows of new seating, with more space between the rows for greater accessibility for audience members.

In addition to the heating and ventilation improvements, which currently give off a humming noise during performances, Cooper said the new foyer will look more like a true theatre lobby.

She added there are plans for a marquee to enhance the Theatre and White Pines Collegiate, which the Theatre is connected to.

Cooper said the renovations, once complete, will reflect the vision of Toronto/Temagami-based theatre planner and consultant Richard Smerdon, who designed the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre.
 
A yet-to-be-named local architect will help carry out the work.

Meantime, among other Sault and area beneficiaries included in Friday’s federal government funding announcement include the Algoma Highlands Conservancy, to receive $100,000 for improvements to Norm’s Cabin Ecotourism Destination; the Township of St. Joseph, to receive $61,000 for renovations to the Old Town Hall;the Town of Bruce Mines, to receive $61,050 for replacement of its Water Treatment Back Up power generator; and the Township of Hilton to receive $58,041 for rehabilitation of Big Point Road.

Recipients of funding under the federal government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) may receive up to $1 million in contributions, and must have access to a minimum of 50 percent of a CIIF contribution in matching funds from other sources, with projects to be completed by the end of March, 2014.

A news release regarding this funding announcement issued today by FedNor follows.
 
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Harper government strengthening community infrastructure in the Sault Ste. Marie region

SAULT STE. MARIE - Across Northern Ontario, community and cultural centres, hockey rinks, swimming pools, and other community projects will soon begin repair and rehabilitation work thanks to support from the Harper Government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).

Bryan Hayes, member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie, on behalf of the Honourable Tony Clement, minister for FedNor, today announced 15 Sault Ste. Marie projects that will benefit from the Fund.

“I’m proud to see local organizations, such as the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre, benefit from the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund,” said MP Hayes. “Families and communities across the country will benefit from projects like these, which will also boost economic activity and leave a lasting legacy of modernized community facilities for future generations.”

“Our Government is pleased to support infrastructure projects across the country in communities like Sault Ste. Marie,” said Minister Clement. “By making investments in local infrastructure through the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund, we are helping to create jobs, grow the economy and support the prosperity of communities for years to come.”

In Economic Action Plan 2012, the Harper Government announced further support to help communities across the country modernize their infrastructure.

The Plan identified $150 million over two years for the Fund to support projects that look to improve existing community infrastructure, such as community centres, recreational buildings, local arenas, cultural and other community facilities.

MP Hayes was joined by local community and business leaders at the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre to announce $751,649 in CIIF funding for 15 Sault Ste. Marie projects, including $374,891 to renovate the performing arts facility.

“This investment by the federal government will help ensure that our facility continues to attract quality professional productions while meeting Algoma’s Community Groups and student needs for a venue to showcase their creative work,” says Brian Wilson, past president and technical chair of the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre.

The Fund supports, on a cost-shared basis, repairs and improvements to existing community infrastructure that is accessible for use by the public.

Recipients of the Fund may receive contributions of up to $1 million and must leverage a minimum of 50 percent of funding from other sources.

The Government of Canada’s contribution to recipients is contingent on the successful execution of a contribution agreement.

FedNor - 25 years of successful investments in Northern Ontario.

To find out more about our programs and services, please visit: fednor.gc.ca or follow us on Twitter @FedNor

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Comments
6
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riverman 1/25/2013 1:49:15 PM Report

Kudos to the KCTC board for securing this grant. Unfortunately, this money would be better spent as an investment in a new facility.

Further investments in the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre are simply throwing good money after bad. The house is too wide for the stage resulting in horrible sight lines for more than 1/3 of the available seats, the proscenium arch is four feet too low, the acoustics will NEVER be improved more than they are now (meaning it will always cost a MINIMUM of $5,000 to rent the microphones required to properly amplify the voices of performers in stage productions), and the fact that the theatre is located in a school constantly poses scheduling problems for user groups because school use trumps community use.

The school issue also means that events cannot get liquor licensing so patrons cannot enjoy a glass of wine or a beer at intermission and that also voids the possibility of events receiving sponsorship from wineries, breweries and distilleries. The ex-lecture hall's location (let's call a spade a spade) is not at all conducive to out-of-town audiences. Theatre in this city is of a quality high enough to be offered as part of a tourism package. To that end, this city DESERVES to have a quality performance space/theatre/concert hall in its downtown core.

I appreciate the existence of a venue like the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre in our city, but to continue to spend money that amounts to millions of dollars over the years to dress up this white elephant is not a wise investment. With the money that has been poured into the KCTC we could probably have a building actually DESIGNED to be a theatre/concert hall on one of the many derelict properties in downtown Sault Ste. Marie.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a nice 500 to 800 seat theatre/concert hall surrounded by shops, condos and restaurants on Gore Street or on the Gateway site? How about a theatre/restaurant complex linked to the Art Gallery and the library, occupying the present Clergue Park site to enhance the downtown core and the waterfront development? So many possibilities.

Again, I think what the KCTC board is doing is wonderful and I am truly thankful that the KCTC exists. But at the same time, I don't think I am wrong to want MORE!!!
learningaswego 1/25/2013 3:20:51 PM Report

Of course it would be nice to have a new, separate facility, but these improvements to the current one will be money well spent. A new facility would likely cost in the area of 10X (minimum, likely) these upgrades to an existing one.

BRAVO to all those involved in making this happen.
learningaswego 1/25/2013 3:24:20 PM Report

Also, we can't forget that you need ample PARKING for any venue like this. Just about any location in the existing downtown core, would probably require adding multi-level parking, which would be another huge expense, even if it were possible.
Stevie-E 1/25/2013 3:26:51 PM Report

@riverman

I agree with you 100% (except maybe the $5k to rent mics, but hey what do I know?)

Anyway, it's the same old story with developments in this city.

It's run like an old beater of a car...

"Hey! Let's put band-aids on things instead of investing in something new that will start paying us back instead of us always trying to stop the bleeding!"

There is so much potential downtown for arts and entertaiment - and even the North end of the city would be an improvement instead of going all the way to the East end to catch a musical...there's nothing there!

I know the development of Essar Centre was under some harsh criticism, and I agree 100%. First, ALL of the boxes should have been built but worse is that it was built in the wrong area!

Ideally, it would have been better if it was on Great Northern Road or by Stratclair..somewhere uptown where most of the nice shopping and restaurants are popping up. Heck, even a new mall could have been developed with the added traffic to the area. Did it ever occur that people don't just go to a show and go home...there is money to be made before, during and after events.

People, when they plan to go out, they plan on it being an evening out, with dinner, entertaiment and drinks...not just sitting through a theatrical production and going home.

The rink and now the Kiwanis Centre are two examples of many bad decisions by the decision-makers of this city.

How can we bring in Tourists to stick around for entertainment if we can't even entertain ourselves? The Soo deserves more than just band-aids.

learningaswego 1/25/2013 4:01:03 PM Report

With due respect, I don't buy that "the rink" was a bad decision.
On the contrary, it has been a huge success for both sporting and arts/music events, and is located in a place where:
a) is close to numerous restaurants and bars,
b) close to several hotels (which is very convenient for out of town patrons) and shopping
c) is close to the centre of public transit services.
In many ways, it is an ideal location; and has been a boon to the downtown core.
Stevie-E 1/25/2013 4:16:10 PM Report

@learning

Hey, I guess some businesses did well but the parking situation there is a disaster.

I didn't think the rink was terrible per se; sure, we had some concerts here but think we could have had reached capacity if it was increased at the time of construction.

The arena being a boon to the downtown economy may be a bit of an overstatement. I may be wrong but I do see a lot of for sale/lease signs by Essar and along the rest of Queen St. for that matter.

Great Northern Road has more restaurants, more parking, and more hotels than downtown so I am not sure where the argument lies. Also, the buses and other transportation go up that way as well.

I just think the sole use of Essar to revitalize downtown was maybe too little too late. I really hope they develop the St. Mary's Paper, the old Sault Area Hospital and Northern Breweries sites. Then, maybe the word "boon" could be used.
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