Moncton's Capitol Theatre will soon see some upgrades, including new seats and technology, along with increased accessibility.
Kim Rayworth, managing director of the theatre, said some of the equipment at the Capitol, including the soundboard monitors and LED video panels used for wall projections, which are critical to the annual winter musical, are starting to "age out."
The theatre applied for funding in order to replace that technology and put in new seats, including some that will be barrier-free to make them more accessible.
"After 30 years of practically continuous use, [the seats have] come to be quite worn out. And they are the number one negative rating that we receive from our patrons when surveyed about the visitor experience," said Rayworth.
Kim Rayworth, managing director of the Capitol Theatre, said the upgrades will keep the Capitol as a 'state of the art' performing arts centre. (Ian Bonnell/CBC)
Rayworth said she would like to see the seats, which were installed in 1993, possibly donated to a local organization, school or another venue, since there is still some wear in them.
Funding a long time coming
The province is putting $260,000 toward the project, with the federal government providing $450,000. Rayworth said the project will cost around $1 million in total, so the theatre is planning to cover the rest using ticket levies.
The project is a long-time coming, she said. The funding application was ready to go, but then the pandemic hit, so the theatre decided to wait.
She said the upgrades will keep the Capitol as a "state of the art" performing arts centre.
The Capitol Theatre's main hall has 780 seats, some of which are seen here in the balcony. They will all be replaced. (Submitted by Capitol Theatre)
"We have several international performers that come in and these equipments and technologies are absolutely required to be able to deliver the type of performance and experiences that our patrons and artists have come to expect in halls of our reputation," she said.
Construction is expected to begin in early June 2024, said Rayworth, and the theatre will remain closed until around the end of September, with an event already planned for the 30th of that month.
Rayworth said she isn't concerned about the summer closure because the theatre industry has much less programming during those months because artists are often touring or performing at festivals.
She said there are summer drama camps at the theatre, but an alternate location will be found for next year.
Keeping the theatre's heritage alive
The upgrades have been dubbed a "modernization project," but Rayworth said she wants fervent patrons of the theatre to know this won't result in a modern look for the hall.
She said they will work carefully to preserve the esthetics of the hall during the seat replacement.
"We understand that people expect increased comfort, all while respecting the heritage nature and the real beauty of the hall," said Rayworth.
"We'll pay very close attention in defining this project with the experts in theatre restorations and renovations of this nature, to make sure that we get it right."