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COVID-19 forces Picton’s historic Regent Theatre to pivot its programming

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Picton’s historic Regent Theatre could close if it doesn’t get some financial help amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the local landmark has plans to change to survive.

Theatre manager Alexandra Seay says the cultural centrepiece of Prince Edward County is asking the municipality for a $40,000 community grant.

“For us pivoting our programming means introducing a hybrid programming model and what that means is the ability to have a live event as well as a streamed event, so what we’re asking council for is funds to buy equipment and expertise to enable us to do live streaming from our venue. Whether that’s live streaming with an audience of 50 or 450, which is our normal capacity, live streaming will be part of how we function from now onwards,” Seay said.

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“I think it’s a really exciting time for a small-town organization to broaden the horizons,” said Kate MacNaughton, councillor for Ward 1 in Picton.

MacNaughton added she can’t imagine the town without the 102-year-old facility.

“I see this vision being an opportunity to move forward and step into the 21st century,” she said. “What that offers is a way to take that amazing local content that we have here, created by local artists and local community groups, and take it to a much broader audience.”

The Main Street facility has been closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March.

Seay says she’s excited about the ongoing reinvention of the theatre.

“I think we’ve definitely seen in these COVID times how important arts and culture are to us, to all of us,” he said. “So we need to be able to go online and meet them where they’re at instead of saying come to us, we need to go to them and keep art strong. Art never went away, it’s just people needed a COVID to remember how much they cared about it.”

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Prince Edward County council will consider the grant request at its next meeting on June 23.

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