Regina's Globe Theatre looking to secure $29M for renovations
Regina’s Globe Theatre has become one of the most successful in the country, but its home — the iconic Prince Edward Building — has reached the end of its useful life.
“We are imaginative, we can make magic happen, but I think time is up. Time’s up on coping and time is up now,” said the theatre’s artistic director, Ruth Smillie.
The designated heritage site was built in 1906 as the Regina Post Office and RCMP headquarters, later becoming city hall. In 1981, the theatre took over the first and second floors of the building and later purchased the property in 2014.
For the past 30 years, the group has faced a number of challenges, including a leaky roof, crumbling infrastructure and difficulties building sets.
“There’s no freight elevator so everything has to be carried up the stairs,” Smillie said. “Our team has to carry up sheets of plywood, steel, grand pianos, and the shop is on the third floor so for them, whenever they are constructing anything, everything has to be carried up.”
There’s also the added problem of a bat infestation.
“Sometimes, they come into the main stage. I don’t know if they want to see the show, but when they get in here and we have the lights on and the show going, sometimes they’ll start circling,” Smillie said. “So we have to stop the show, get the audience out of the theatre, catch the bat and start the show again.”
While the list of challenges is long, there’s the additional issue of space. A maze of one-way hallways and tiny dressing rooms poses challenges for actors.
After exploring its options, the theatre is looking to secure $29 million in funding to complete a number of renovations.
“We believe this is the right decision — that we should be staying downtown, that this building is a treasured heritage building for the people of Regina — and we have an opportunity to transform this aging, old girl into something truly wonderful and a state-of-the-art theatre,” Smillie said.
The not-for-profit theatre has been in talks with all three levels of government and has committed to raising a portion of the funding itself. Last week, Smillie formally requested a contribution from the city at executive council to the tune of $6.6 million.
“We want the federal government and the province to state they will be involved, and I think they will be,” said Regina Mayor Michael Fougere. “Certainly, we are on record as saying we will support that. We know that there are several million dollars from the private sector going into the project as well, which makes it even more interesting.”
The plan is to completely gut the inside of the building, bringing everything up to code and making the theatre more accessible.
The exterior of the building will also be repaired, and new amenities will be added, including a new wine bar and a working loading dock with a freight elevator.
The box office will be moved to the ground level, and the second stage will be expanded to seat 250 people. The roof will also be taken off to increase the amount of seating in the mainstage area by 100 seats.
“We sell between 56,000 and 70,000 tickets every year. The population of Regina is just over 200,000, and this theatre is one of the most successful in Canada. Our colleagues envy the type of audiences that we draw into our space,” Smillie said. “Now, we need the theatre, the facility, that this audience and this community needs.”
Once funding is secure, renovations are expected to take two years to complete.