In two weeks, the multi-year effort to build a new theatre at Stelly’s Secondary will take another step forward.
The Society for the Community Arts Theatre at Stelly’s (SCATS) will release the second part of their feasibility study, which will provide a hard costing for two potential theatre options at the school as well as an economic impact assessment.
Ron Broda, president of the Society, said the hard costing is important for soliciting private donors, at which point they could go to government with funding requests.
“We have the support in principle of the municipality, this school board, the WSANEC school board and new MLA Adam Olsen, who was a part of the Stelly’s theatre program and a strong advocate. It’s just a matter of getting all our ducks in a row,” said Broda.
The theatre would be built on a section of the parking lot and what is now an underutilized outdoor amphitheatre. It would be joined to the existing music room. The multi-purpose room, which is currently used for theatre performances, has seating for 165, but Stelly’s Principal Sally Hansen said the average size of each grade is 195.
Besides the capacity issue, Broda said there are no dressing rooms, so the classrooms behind the multipurpose room are converted during rehearsal night and converted back for classes the following morning. It also shares a wall with the cafeteria, so noise often filters through.
Hansen hopes the province will move faster on the issue. She said the Ministry of Education is currently “scrambling” to deal with a portable crisis and the new classroom size regulations.
Large capital projects like the theatre have, in her view, been put on the backburner but she cautions against waiting too long. She pointed to a photo of the school when it was first built in 1977 and noted the price tag: $2.77 million.
“$2.77 mill would not go very far today. If you keep waiting, if you think it’s expensive now, it’s going to get a lot more expensive if you keep dragging your heels.”