The Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation (LPACF) is eager to show off their hard this week with their first steps taken in converting the Trinity Lutheran Church into a permanent performing arts centre.
The church, which the Foundation is hoping to purchase with help from the City of Lacombe, will be hosting two performances during Light Up the Night — with the intent of showing Lacombe the potential of the facility going forward.
“The biggest challenge is arranging financing because we don’t qualify for financing as a not-for-profit organization,” Grant Harder, LPACF representative, said. “We don’t exactly have high cash flow, so we are hoping to strike a deal with the City of Lacombe to help us with financing and then we will figure out how to make the payments.”
Currently their renovation budget is around $20,000 but they are hoping to expand the capacity of the building in order to accommodate around 300 people, up from the 150 it currently holds.
The cost of expansion is roughly around $1 million to $1.5 million, which is considerably cheaper than the $25 million it would have cost to construct a brand new performing arts centre.
“We realized the community cannot afford a $25 million facility, but this is excellent. This has a lot of the components we were looking for in an arts facility,” Harder said.
“The five-year plan is to do an expansion to increase the capacity. Along with that would come updating the facility, improved bathroom facilities, handicap accessibility and paving the parking lot.”
Harder and his team are hoping Lacombe sees the value in a performing arts centre.
“I have never been a believer in making it about ‘us verses sports’, because the two have their own merits and stand on their own,” Harder said. “But there is a tremendous amount of energy and money put into sports by every municipality, not just Lacombe. The arts are often underfunded by comparison.
“When the community really starts to develop an identity, then you look towards the arts. Lacombe is at that point now and Lacombe has a disproportional high number of artists, musicians and performers in the community.”
The best way to show that Lacombe is in need of a retrofitted performing arts centre is to get, “Cheeks in the seats”, according to Harder.
“If we have people come and enjoy the performances, that is all they need to do. They don’t need to get out their wallets, but it would be nice if they did,” he said.
Harder said they are also looking for people to come out and physically help out if they can and wish to.
“We are always looking for more people to help with everything including setting up chairs and mopping the floor,” he said. “We are not-for-profit and everyone is a volunteer.
“We are, however, in the process of hiring a programmer to book our theatre and that should happen by the January 2nd.”
He added, “We have done a heck of lot of work here in the last month. It is pretty exciting and that first show on Wednesday will be an exciting time for us.”