While a proposed new concert hall for Red Deer was pushed far into the future, Lacombe is plowing ahead with plans for its first performing arts centre.
“We have tremendous support from the community,” said Lacombe city Coun. Grant Harder. So far, this includes a municipal grant from the City of Lacombe, which approved this week $25,000 towards planning the performing space and coming up with estimated project costs.
This grant will be matched by the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation through various community fundraisers, including a big band concert in April.
Foundation president Lann Lieurance said the goal is to come up with a basic floor plan for a 400-to-600-seat concert hall and multi-purpose space, then hire an architecture firm to create more detailed blueprints of the building. The group also hopes to hammer out estimates on construction costs and operating expenses by the end of March.
While a performing arts centre isn’t officially in the City of Lacombe’s 10-year capital plan, Harder said it could be added as the plan comes up for discussion and revision annually.
Land has been set aside for the proposed facility. The reserved parcel, north of downtown on 56th Avenue, near Lacombe Composite High School, City Hall and Cranna Lake, is owned by the City of Lacombe and Wolf Creek School Division.
It’s a scenic spot for what should be a “fantastic” centre, said Lieurance, a saxophonist who performs with Harder in the Flat Iron Jazz band.
The Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation is working on the proposal with help from Family and Community Support Services and several non-profit groups that would eventually share space in the proposed concert hall/children’s service centre. These include Lacombe Parent Link Centre and Lacombe Day Care Society.
As well, Lieurance said many other dance, music and performance groups are behind the project.
In a recent Red Deer city survey, a new performing arts centre was ranked as No. 4 on a residents’ wish list for capital projects in this centre of nearly 100,000 people. The Red Deer Symphony Orchestra has also been lobbying for years for a new concert hall after regularly selling out the 576-seat Red Deer College Arts Centre. But Red Deer city council opted to push the proposal some 20 years into the future.
Harder believes the difference is that Red Deer already has several dedicated performance spaces, including the RDC Arts Centre and Welikoklad Centre in the downtown, and the Memorial Centre, while Lacombe really has no large theatre-style facility with a stage, sloped floor and permanent seats.
Lieurance and Harder feel it’s time Lacombe, a community of 12,000 people with a trading area of 25,000, built its first performing arts centre.
In 2012, a consultant determined that building an acoustically excellent but not too ambitious performance centre is feasible for the community.