Westlock’s thespians, dancers, musicians and drama classes will have a new theatre floor to work on this year.
The new floor is part of a series of renovations and upgrades planned for the theatre over the coming years, according to Cultural Arts Theatre board chair Barry Robinson.
“We enlisted the help of Don Waddle, a professional theatre technician in Spruce Grove who helped us prioritize upgrades to the theatre,” he said, explaining that the floor was deemed the most important, followed by the lighting and the seats.
He added that he believes the old floor has been in place since the theatre first opened, and the theatre board decided to be proactive in replacing it.
Robinson said he didn’t want to disclose the actual cost of the replacement, other than to say they received numerous bids for the project before going with local contractor Pierre Boisvert.
The cost of the new floor is split four ways between the Pembina Hills school division (PHRD), Westlock Rotary, the Westlock Drama Society and the Cultural Arts Theatre Series.
Pembina Hills facilities and transportation director Tracy Tyreman said the division will cover half the cost because the theatre is located in the school, but that’s the limit of the division’s involvement. “We pay our share, of course,” he said. “We pay for half of that, because the school uses it all, but they’re doing all the work.”
Ultimately, the reason for replacing the floor came down to its current state after roughly a quarter century of use.
“These stages get so much abuse from having props dragged across them or sometimes screwing things down,” Tyreman said “Basically the floor just has to be replaced after so many years.”
Robinson backed up Tyreman’s assessment when he said R.F. Staples’ teacher Susan Bowsfield had told the CAT board that she had noticed the floor was uneven in spots and had a number of chips in it. In fact, she said she had seen a marked change in the floor’s quality in the last 12 months alone, he said.
Work on the floor started about two weeks ago, Robinson said. As of Aug. 7, he said he knew the floor was already in place, but he wasn’t sure if the special paint used for stage floors had been applied.
Moving forward, he said the theatre will undergo a more upgrades to improve the experience, starting with the lighting system and new seats in the not-too-distant future.