SUPPORT NEEDED- Central Alberta Theatre is appealing to the corporate community to help with fundraising as new costs have surfaced for renovations to the old Uptown Theatre. CAT is in the process of acquiring the site

CAT hits setback in taking over Uptown Theatre

Call for bolstered corporate sponsorship as new costs surface

Central Alberta Theatre has run into significant and unexpected costs in its endeavour to take over the old Uptown Theatre downtown.

Last month, CAT announced they were in talks to acquire the theatre, which has been vacant for several years.

But the unexpected requirement to add a fire suppression system throughout the building has added another $125,000 to the cost of renovations, said William Trefry, executive director.

He said the amount equals about 25% of the overall costs of the renovation.

“We were prepared to finance the cost of this project upfront, and then invite corporate and individuals to partner with Central Alberta Theatre to bring the overall cost down,” he said.

“However, with this setback we are not in the position to fully finance the complete cost of the project at the beginning. Therefore, we must look at sponsors to actually get the project back on track if we are to move forward with our plans to take over the building,” he said.

Trefry is appealing to the corporate sector to partner on the 12,500 sq. ft. facility, adding that a number of local groups have expressed how this project would be a good fit in the downtown core.

“We really believe this move is an amazing opportunity and a benefit, not just to Central Alberta Theatre, but to the cultural community, businesses and citizens of all of Red Deer and area.”

Trefry first presented the idea of acquiring the privately-owned facility to the board about two months ago.

The plan is to have two stages within the facility for theatrical productions and live entertainment. There will also be one large room which will be available for a number of functions or receptions. He said the largest theatre, after renovations, should seat about 360 people.

Last month, Trefry, who took over as CAT’s executive director this past May, said the purchase would also be a good compliment to CAT’s current venue and home at CAT Studios attached to the Red Deer Memorial Centre. That’s where CAT has been housed since 1994 after wrapping up a major addition to the building in 2001.

If all goes according to plan, the new multi-use venue would be available for booking in the first half of 2011.

Central Alberta Theatre was founded in 1970 from an amalgamation of Parkland Players and Red Deer Musical Theatre. With only a few members and rehearsing out of basements and school gymnasiums the group initially focused its talents on presenting main stage productions at the Red Deer Memorial Centre.

Properties, costumes and sets were stored in and around Red Deer, namely the basements and garages of various members.

Members of Central Alberta Theatre eventually voted to approach the City of Red Deer to take over the operation of the Memorial Centre. In 1994 an agreement was made between the two parties.

Expansions were later made to the Memorial Centre for storage, offices and rehearsal space. That part of the facility opened in the fall of 2002.

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

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