August 23, 2019 5:30 pm
Updated: August 27, 2019 1:08 pm

‘It’s about time’: Regina’s Globe Theatre receives $26M in revitalization funding

Regina's Globe Theatre is set for an overhaul costing $28 million.

Derek Putz / Global News
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An artistic hub in downtown Regina is getting a massive boost from governments on the federal, provincial, and municipal levels to the tune of $26 million.

The Globe Theatre is set for a revitalization project worth a total of $28.9 million, giving the space a complete overhaul with a modern in-the-round style, while also meeting today’s facility standards.

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“This is a long time coming,” Mayor Michael Fougere said. “We’re very much onboard. As soon we had these discussions with the Globe, about the need to revitalize and rejuvenate, we immediately said ‘yes.’”

At the federal level, over $10.5 million is being provided through the Community, Culture and Recreation Stream of the Investing in Canada Plan. The province is providing $9 million, the city will contribute $6.6 million, and the remaining $2 million will be covered by the Globe Theatre itself.

READ MORE: Regina’s Globe Theatre looking to secure $29M for renovations

It’s an understatement to say the money is appreciated, as the building is showing almost story-like signs of decay.

“We do have a bat colony living in the building,” explained Ruth Smilie, the theatre’s honourary artistic director and former artistic director and CEO of 20 years.

“We have expert bat catchers on staff. It’s kind of a joke, but it’s not. It’s a really substandard space to work in.

“There’s no freight elevator. Every piece of plywood, every piece of steel is carried upstairs. We freeze in the winter. You can actually feel the cold coming through the walls.

“It’s a beautiful heritage building that needs some TLC.”

Smilie described the upcoming revitalization as “hollowing out the building like a pumpkin and turning it into a state-of-the-art theatre.”

The next step in the building’s revival is the design process, which Smilie said will take about six months.

“We hope to start construction in the Summer of 2020 and it will take about two years,” she said.

In the meantime, staff and production will move to a temporary facility which is yet to be determined.

READ MORE: Local deaf acting collective selling out Globe Theatre

The building is about 112 years old, and part of the building’s renewal will put its old features on display.

“The Prince Edward Building has been a civic landmark for more than a century and home to the Globe for nearly 40 years,” said Ralph Goodale, minister of public safety and emergency preparedness. “The improvements now to be undertaken will ensure this rich heritage continues, safely and efficiently, with the highest capacity for performance and production excellence.”

The money will fund refurbishing of the building including water filtration, replacement of fire-proof structural columns in the basement, a repair and repoint of the masonry, and upgrading mechanical and electrical systems.

The funding announcement is one that couldn’t have come soon enough.

“It’s about time,” Globe Theatre board member Tina Svedahl said. “Ten years into Ruth’s time at the Globe Theatre, it became apparent that this facility was in need of refurbishment.”

“This was our main priority with our infrastructure funding, along with the two pools, we wanted the Globe to be on that list and we’re glad that it’s been announced,” Fougere said. “The Globe itself is an anchor for the downtown, it is why people come downtown.

“We’ll attract more people and have more capacity for people to be here, so the economic factors are really important, but also the cultural side of this- the outreach to the community, and the ability to provide better programming is so vital.

“The Globe is an incredible institution to have into the modern era.”

READ MORE: Regina’s Globe Theatre artistic director prepares to take final bow

Smilie stepped down from her role of artistic director and CEO this past June. She remains an integral part of the future of the Globe theatre as the honourary artistic director emeritus.

She reminisced about her welcome to the city of Regina, over 20 years ago.

“When I first came here, this is the very first place where I received letters of welcome from the Mayor, city council, city politicians, provincial politicians, Ralph Goodale, donors. That doesn’t happen.”

“This city needs a theatre that actually matches the importance that this organization has in the community.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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