With a $4.1-million commitment from the federal government, London’s historic Grand Theatre is ready to hit the ground running on top to bottom renovations.
The total cost of the project is estimated to cost $8 million, with the additional funds coming from a combination of support from the city and private donors.
Deb Harvey, the theatre’s executive director, said these renovations are a long time coming.
“It started out with maybe we would do a $3-million renovation, and then as we continued to plan and realize where our gaps were, it ended up as an $8-million project,” said Harvey.
Founded in 1901, it’s been around 40 years since any work has been done.
Fom the box office to the washrooms, Harvey said, everything will be updated with the entrance and other rooms getting a complete facelift.
“We are replacing the last four of the seven roofs of the building,” Harvey explained. “Last week, in the rainstorm, it was raining on stage and the third floor.
“We just need upgrades… if this were your house, you would be doing the same thing.”
London West MP Kate Young said the federal government realizes the importance of investing in the arts and the role theatre plays in the community.
“Tourism is such an integral part of this area, but it’s not only that. It’s the fact that when the arts are strong in a community the economy is strong and we understand that that you need both to make a vibrant community,” Young said.
The theatre has a five-month deadline from May to October, 2020, but Harvey said they will be ready by the new season.
“We are going to make it on a tight deadline. It’s what we do in theatre — opening night is opening night,” she said.
The funding from the federal government is coming through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. The fund is designed to help support the development of Canadian talent and promote entrepreneurship in the arts.
The Grand is not the only theatre receiving funding.
Through the federal government’s fund, $100,000 will also be going towards the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia to help replace its heating and cooling system to improve the building’s energy efficiency.
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