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Posted: September 28, 2020

Key City Theatre announces Phase 2 upgrades

Key City Theatre is making constructive use of these socially distanced times as it delves into Phase 2 of major upgrades to the building.

Phase 1 in 2018 saw the roof structure upgraded and coming this fall the theatre will gain a new chiller, state of the art LED lighting, an overhaul of the electrical system and major safety upgrade with the installation of a new fire curtain on the stage.

“The Phase 2 upgrades began earlier than planned when the lockdown happened in early Spring, and we managed to get the 28-year-old stage surface replaced back in early April,” said Key City Theatre Managing Director Galen Olstead has been spearheading the upgrades since he arrived at the theatre in 2014.

“With the help of our funding partners we are aiming to breathe new life into the building and bring at least another 40 good years to the venue.”

The unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic have been beneficial in one regard, freeing the time needed at the theatre to complete the construction.

Funding partners for Phase 2 include: School District No. 5 with a $1.1 million contribution; Canadian Heritage with $670,000; Columbia Basin Trust with $400,000; and the Regional District of the East Kootenay with $150,000. School District No. 5, the Columbia Basin Trust and the City of Cranbrook were major funders in Phase 1.

Once completed, Phase 1 and Phase 2 will see over $3.5 million dollars invested into the facility.

Landon Elliott

Landon Elliott is President of the Key City Theatre Society board of directors and is acutely aware of the importance of the Key City Theatre to the community.

“The Key City Theatre, to me, has always represented community and connectedness. The idea that you can see a neighbour, a friend, a new acquaintance and come together to be part of something for a moment. Where the collective gasp of an audience created by an exceptional act gets burnt into a collective memory that we can all hold together. These moments, these collective memories, define our day, week, or even our year. This isn’t just a venue to see your favourite artist. It is the cornerstone of our community. The place where people from all walks of life gather to share moments that can challenge the way we think and act, can bring us together, and can make us feel like we are at home.

“This year when we all have spent so much time apart, where warm smiles and handshakes have been replaced with screens and plexiglass, we can feel the loss of community more than ever. It is the longing and need for community that will sustain us. It is what drives our organization as we strive to keep these moments alive.”

While our community and the world navigates through the changing landscape created by the global pandemic, Elliott sees many positives that can come from this temporary shutdown to the performing arts.

“In the short term, this has been a challenge, our over 600 seat theatre has been reduced to a maximum 50 seat capacity. Despite this, demand for arts and community is strong. Currently, we are running offsite events with a 100% sellout rate and anticipate all of our events in 2020 to be sold out. If you are wanting to see live theatre you can increase your chances at one of the elusive 50 seats by getting in front of the line with a Big Ticket Plus Membership. This not only is a great way to support our organization, but also gives you an opportunity to get your hands on those tickets days before the public.”

With an eye to brighter times ahead, Elliott is optimistic. “In the long run, I truly believe that this global pandemic will make us stronger. As an organization we have been reinvesting and rethinking how we will operate. Our artists will be welcomed into a theatre with a new stage, state-of-the-art lights and sound, and a professional tech staff who have spent their downtime training on all of this modern technology.

“The theatre experience will be one you have never seen before in our community. Our guests will be welcomed with new modern conveniences which will change the way they experience live theatre at the Key. I believe that the energy and desire for the arts has been building, and when restrictions are raised, we will see record breaking audience demand. In addition, many of our local community members have taken the time during COVID to relearn and fall back in love with their artistic sides. I believe we will see new groups form, and new talents discovered.”

Key City Theatre has a season planned and while it may not look like a typical year, it will bring many opportunities for people to come together and enjoy some high quality live entertainment, the first of which happens September 30 when it presents the sold-out Chantal Kreviazuk concert, which it is hosting at the beautiful Royal Alexandra Hall at the Cranbrook History Centre.

And what’s next? Olstead promises some exciting announcements in the next few days and weeks.

“The shows are going to be more intimate, up close and personal and we are excited to be working with local venues to find new and interesting places to present artists while the work is being done at the theatre. Performing arts will always find a way. There are obstacles to be overcome, but we are all determined to meet this moment creatively.”

For the latest on what is happening at the Key City Theatre check their website or its Facebook page.

Lead image: Key City Theatre Managing Director Galen Olstead. Photo submitted

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