'It's a dream come true': Regina's Globe Theatre secures $26M for renovations

Regina's Globe Theatre and its 113-year-old home are getting $26 million for renovations.

The federal and provincial government announced Friday they would be contributing more than $19 million toward the project, with Regina kicking another $6,600,000.

In March, the former Globe Theatre Artistic Director Ruth Smillie said it needed $29 million in repairs and renovations to the more-than-a-century old Prince Edward Building. It applied for $6.6 million from the City of Regina.The theatre also hoped to raise $5 million from donors.

"It's a dream come true," Smillie said Friday. 

The renovations and repairs will focus on water infiltration, replacing and fire-proofing structural columns in the basement, repairing masonry and upgrading the mechanical and electrical systems.

"I think one of the first things you're gonna see is a really accessible space. Right now for patrons or for artists you can't access the main stage unless you have mobility."

There are other issues like bats.

"We do have a bat colony living in the building. We do have expert bat catchers on staff. It is kind of a joke but it's not. It is a really substandard place to work."

Smillie said design plans will be worked out over the next six months, with construction set for summer 2020.

The theatre will move into a yet to be determined temporary space during construction.

Project part of $900M infrastructure fund

In October, the province and Ottawa signed an agreement worth $896 million for infrastructure projects in Saskatchewan. More than $56 million of that is reserved for "community, culture and recreation" programs. 

The city submitted an application for Globe funding to the province earlier this year and the project was chosen as a priority and submitted to Ottawa.

Here's a breakdown of the funding commitment:

  • Federal government -  $10,831,697
  • Government of Saskatchewan - $9,025,512
  • City of Regina - $6,600,000
  • The Globe Theatre will cover the remaining project costs 
  • The total estimated project cost is $28.9 million.

"The creative sector is an important driver of economic growth and community vitality, and we are proud to be funding improvements to the Globe Theatre, one of the region's primary cultural hubs," said Regina MP Ralph Goodale in a news release.

"This provincial funding will support the creation of a state-of-the-art venue in the heart of Regina and help the show to go on for decades to come," said Regina MLA Tina Beaudry-Mellor. 

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere said expanding stage and rehearsal space will help grow other cultural organizations. 

"This is a vital project for Regina's heritage and culture and for the revitalization of our downtown," Fougere said.   

The Prince Edward building, also known as Old City Mall, was built in 1906 and is a designated heritage site. It is the previous home of the Regina Post Office (1907-1956), provincial legislature, RCMP headquarters and later City Hall (1962-1976). The theatre purchased the building in 2014.

Craig Edwards/CBC

Ottawa previously announced infrastructure funding for Saskatoon's Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, Saskatoon's Gordie Howe Bowl, Thunderchild Wellness Centre and a Community Rink for Southend.

The province and Ottawa have been engaged in a back and forth in recent weeks over which projects in Regina should be receiving financial support.

Premier Scott Moe accused Goodale of using two Regina outdoor pool projects as his "re-election fund".

Goodale countered and said of the 25 infrastructure projects the province submitted for federal funding, 21 of them fall in constituencies represented by Moe's Saskatchewan Party.