Playhouse opening night the setting for $97,500 expansion funding announcement

A construction delay has ended up being something very positive for the Upper Canada Playhouse.

Upon losing their rehearsal hall space with the sale of the Eastern Star building in Morrisburg, early this year, Playhouse officials looked at all the options and decided that they would build a new addition to the existing Playhouse to have their own rehearsal hall space on site.

Donnie Bowes, artistic director of Upper Canada Playhouse recently spoke with The Leader about the upcoming construction project.

“We had expected to start construction on the rehearsal hall March 1st of this year,” he said. He explained that once the permitting and approval process was completed, the start date had to be pushed back further than originally anticipated. 

At that point, it was decided that it was better to wait until  fall (September) to start the project. Not only is that a better time for contractors who are already busy this time of year, it would also be outside of the playhouse’s peak season.

With the delay, Bowes decided to check out funding avenues for the construction project, as the playhouse is an important part of the community, both culturally and economically.

That effort was very worthwhile. 

At opening night of the first show of the 2015 season at the Upper Canada Playhouse, local MP Guy Lauzon announced that the government will provide $97,500 for the expansion project.

“It’s a great financial boost, and affirmation that what we have built here at the Upper Canada Playhouse is appreciated, as a cultural attraction,” said Bowes.

“Upper Canada Playhouse takes pride in making a significant cultural and economic impact on our local communities by producing professional live theatre for the past three decades. By investing in the growth of our theatre through the addition of a rehearsal facility, the Department of Canadian Heritage supports the impact we’ve been striving to have in our community,” said Bowes.

“The construction of additional space for artistic performances benefits both the artists and the general public,” said MP Lauzon. “I am pleased that our government supports the Upper Canada Playhouse, a group that gives so much to its community.”

The funding is through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, which supports the improvement, renovation and construction for arts and heritage facilities. It is also designed to increase access for Canadians to performing, visual and media arts.

A 29’x51’ addition is planned for the building. Construction is expected to take 2-3 months. The new addition will impact a portion of the existing mural that adorns the building, with a section being covered by the addition. It will only result in the loss of a few staff parking spaces.

About 10 feet of needed storage space will be added to the building as part of the project.

With the rehearsal hall delay, Bowes has had to find spaces for the actors to rehearse upcoming shows for this season and for the children’s summer camps to take place. 

“It has actually provided the playhouse with the opportunity to get out into the community more,” said Bowes.

Their rehearsal hall this year will be at the McIntosh Inn, and summer camps will be taking place at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Morrisburg.