St. Albert’s Arden Theatre will have all its seats replaced as part of a half-million dollar renovation planned for next year.
The city learned this week it will receive a federal grant worth nearly $250,000, which was the green light needed for a major renovation that’s likely to close down the theatre next August and September, said cultural services director Kelly Jerrott.
“We were very excited and it’s a great opportunity to make sure the Arden is in as good a condition as possible so we’re able to serve the residents of St. Albert and surrounding areas,” she said.
The seat replacement is the largest component of the project. Aisle lighting designed to illuminate the stairs will be integrated into the new seats, making it safer and easier for patrons to find their seats, Jerrott said.
Other work will include new carpet in the auditorium and a new sound console that controls the audio system. This item should noticeably improve the sound and make the venue attractive to high-profile acts, Jerrott said.
“With touring shows, when they come in, they’re used to a certain level so this will help keep us at the appropriate level,” Jerrott said.
The theatre’s current seats are the originals installed when the facility was built 26 years ago. They’ve been reupholstered once but never replaced.
“They’re starting to show the wear and tear,” Jerrott said.
The improvements will provide a modern update but also stay true to the look and feel of the Arden and respect the heritage status of the building, she said.
The federal grant is worth $245,881 and comes from the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, which provides money for the renovation and construction of arts and heritage facilities.
The grant requires matching from the city, which will come from the Arden Theatre Reserve Fund. This fund is generated through a ticket surcharge and is in place to ensure the ongoing maintenance and refurbishment of the theatre, Jerrott said.
Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber said he will officially announce the awarding of the grant in late December or early January.
He said he’s happy to see the Arden getting an upgrade since it’s a venue that showcases important artists and enhances the quality of life for residents.
“It’s easy for me to justify the investment of federal dollars in hard infrastructure in a project like the Arden Theatre,” he said.
St. Albert projects that have recently received federal grants include the St. Albert Curling Club and the renovated bus barn that’s now called the Dez Liggett Transit Facility.
“Our MP has been doing a good job of getting to the bottom of where these files are,” said Mayor Nolan Crouse.
“I’m very happy with the federal government’s response.”