Arts centre issue studied

A new performing arts centre would fill a gaping void in Lacombe’s cultural scene, says the head of a foundation formed to resolve the issue.

A new performing arts centre would fill a gaping void in Lacombe’s cultural scene, says the head of a foundation formed to resolve the issue.

Grant Harder, president of the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation, said on Wednesday that there is no facility in Lacombe suitable for performing arts.

The Lacombe Memorial Centre is a good site for parties, meetings and public speaking events, but lacks the seating, lighting and acoustics necessary for live theatre, said Harder.

The Performing Arts Centre Foundation was formed to address that void, he said.

Earlier this week, city council approved spending of up to $10,000 to help fund a feasibility study that would look at whether the community can build and sustain its own theatre or if it’s something that should be shelved for a few more years.

The city has reserves set aside, from which its share of the costs are being withdrawn.

A private citizen had stepped forward earlier, offering to also provide $10,000 toward the study, said Harder.

After making queries with other theatre operators, the Lacombe group has chosen a consultant who specializes in theatre and was involved with the renovation of the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton.

Harder said his wish list would include a theatre similar to the Red Deer College Arts Centre, with additional facilities that could be rented to other groups involved in visual and performing arts.

Ideally, the new building would be located behind City Hall, where it would be in handy walking distance from a number of schools and have plenty of space for parking, he said.

Along with deciding whether such a project can work in Lacombe, the feasibility study will look at how many seats the theatre should hold and what other features should be included to make it a multi-use facility capable of generating enough revenue to cover most of its costs.

Harder, a saxophone player with Flat Iron Jazz, said he doesn’t know of any theatre that is fully self-supporting, so anticipates that additional funding will be needed to cover operation costs.

Flat Iron Jazz will play at a dinner and dance to be held at the Lacombe Memorial Centre on April 14 to help raise money for the performing arts centre project.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com