The City of Lacombe is one step closer to having a 350-seat theatre after council accepted the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation’s proposal for the City to acquire the property where the Trinity Lutheran Church currently stands.
While no purchase has been approved, the decision allows the Foundation to develop a business plan with the assistance of the City of Lacombe Administration.
Grant Harder from the Foundation said they would be looking to retrofit the church into a theatre that would be significantly cheaper than building a new building on Cranna Lake.
“We looked at a number of different opportunities, almost every available building in Lacombe,” Harder said. “We can check all the boxes when it comes to this building. The hall is not ultimately as big as we like, but we feel it is a really good stepping stone to get us up and running as a theatre.
“Eventually, fingers crossed, we can enlarge it and have the theatre we all really want and the community deserves.”
The Foundation is hoping for an arrangement that would see the City act as landlords to the Foundation, thus cutting down costs for the taxpayer.
“We would operate it, we would maintain it and we would schedule it with all the programming,” Harder said. “The community would gain a huge asset but they wouldn’t incur all of the costs and everything you get from a swimming pool or an arena.”
Harder said the original plan to have a new $20 million building at Cranna Lake was too much for the community to support.
“We stepped back two years ago and got back to square one to support the arts in the community,” he said. “We continued with the Music in the Park program, we started Homegrown Theatre — a community theatre group and a number of other things we have become involved with to increase the support for the arts in the community.”
Harder believes the plan to retrofit the church will eliminate the need for an expensive new facility.
“Fifty per cent of the structure would be brand new and we will be able to do it for a fraction of the price we were talking about originally,” he added.
When and if the City purchases the property, the Foundation will be ready to move forward.
If the purchase is completed, the Foundation and the City will work together to access grant money to ease the burden on taxpayers.
“That is one of the advantages to us having the City on board as a partner. We are eligible for some grants and the City is eligible for a different pool of grants. Hopefully between the two of us we can access more funds,” Harder said.