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Red Deer College buying City Centre Stage

Red Deer College is buying City Centre Stage for $1.6 million.

The college’s board of governors voted unanimously at a special meeting on Tuesday to close the deal in about two weeks.

The college plans to expand its Donald School of Business and move some Motion Picture Arts programs to the building, which was renovated last year by Central Alberta Theatre (CAT) and boasts 300-seat and 107-seat theatres.

“It’s a big decision (and) it’s great for students,” said board chair Shelley Ralston.

Negotiations to buy the building at 4922 49th St. downtown from the Mah family of Red Deer began last summer when CAT made it clear it couldn’t afford to continue leasing the space. The amateur theatre group has about $800,000 in debts, largely due to cost overruns from the former movie theatre’s renovations.

The $1,628,000 purchase allows the college to “recommit to our presence downtown,” said Ralston, as well as a new way to supplement government operating subsidies.

“Absolutely it will be a source of revenue . . . that will help us pay for it, too,” she said, adding the college routinely rents its Arts Centre Main Stage and studios to community groups.

She said the board began seriously discussing the purchase at its May retreat and again at three subsequent meetings.

“We looked at it when it was going to be up for grabs. We said, ‘Let’s investigate it anyway.’ ”

College president Joel Ward said about $20,000 in renovations to add wireless Internet and fire sprinklers to the small theatre will start in January.

The college is outgrowing its Donald School of Business space in the Millennium Centre and City Centre Stage’s two theatres are the right size for lectures and presentations. Launching international business co-operative programs will make space tighter.

Showing Motion Picture Arts student films in a small film festival is planned, as are screenings of films that don’t often make it to Red Deer.

“There’ll be more activity downtown, not less.”

Ward stressed such events and renting the theatres to the community aren’t financially driven.

“We want to provide a service to students and the general public, not make money.”

The first formal event in the building will be a spring presentation by Jim Harris, a Canadian author, environmentalist and former national Green Party leader, who will talk about his book Blindsided! and how business can’t afford to be caught unaware.



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