Trust support helps open new streams of revenue for Cranbrook Community Theatre
The Studio/Stage Door building looks like it was plucked from the pages of a history book and placed into the heart of Cranbrook. Built in 1909, the two-storey clapboard building was originally used as a Masonic lodge. Today, the building, which has been operated by the Cranbrook Community Theatre Society since 1974, demonstrates a growing versatility inasmuch as it reflects the Masons’ legacy of a well-built structure.
The upper floor, The Stage Door, hosts plays, comedians, musicians, church groups and theatre classes, while the lower floor, The Studio, is open to a variety of community groups.
Peter Schalk, President of the Cranbrook Community Theatre Society, explains that the building’s renovations, supported by Columbia Basin Trust, have increased energy efficiency and expanded rental options.
“We can’t generate enough funds just on theatre, so we really do rely on renting space,” Schalk says. “We have many different yoga groups coming in. We’ve had Scottish dance and First Nations drumming. We’ve hosted birthday parties and executive meetings. The renovations really made a difference as far as bringing in new people, the new tech and increased energy efficiency have also created a welcoming space for both performers and visitors. The increased bookings have been incredible.”
The Studio/Stage Door became a designated heritage building in 1985, and indeed, just looking at the white columned front porch and red stairs, the building is a preserved icon from the past. But by the time the unique building had turned a hundred years old, it had suffered a significant amount of wear and tear from snow, ice, rain and wind.
The exterior needed repairs to the soffit, gutters and wooden columns. The interior needed upgrades to an aging ventilation system, while its walls and windows needed insulation since the building was originally constructed without any insulation at all.
To help make this heritage space energy efficient and continually accessible to the community, the Trust and Heritage BC, among others, supported the renovations, which were mindful of the building’s heritage features, including staying true to the original colours and keeping some of the original lights.
In addition to the renovations, The Studio/Stage Door has upgraded its technology systems, such as sound, lighting and ability to live stream.
Stephanie Kress, who has been an actor, director and technician at the Studio/Stage Door since 2008, says, “We’re small-town BC, but now we’re using the same kind of equipment that they’re using in big-centre, professional theatres, so it steps up the quality of theatre.”
With the major renovations now complete, the Studio/Stage Door is looking forward to its new season of productions.
“There’s a lot of upcoming new age shows. I do encourage people to come out even if they’re not familiar with a title or a play,” says Kress. “There are some fantastic unknown plays out in the world that you might find you like if you just give it a shot.”