The Souris Valley Theatre will lose two full seasons as a result of last year’s flooding, but the board is eager to get to work and bring performances back to the Energy City for next year.
They are still waiting to hear back about their claim from the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program, but Heather Vermeersch, the theatre’s chairwoman, said they are hoping to get down to the theatre site and start on some cleanup.
Seats need to be replaced, dressing rooms and washrooms repaired and some landscaping must happen to get the grounds back into respectable shape.
“It will be a project of the slow and steady (kind), and it will be one thing at a time,” said Vermeersch.
“We are very hopeful that we can get the area functional and in the fall, look for productions to bring in next year.”
The cantina building was in OK shape but needs work, and luckily the stage structure was fine.
She noted that the theatre board is held in limbo to some degree as they await the final PDAP decision. They last heard from PDAP about a month ago, and they toured the grounds together in January. Still, she said they aren’t in a position to complain about their predicament, as many others have lost homes and are still waiting on a response from the assistance program.
“We understand people’s homes and businesses and livelihoods are at stake. As much as it’s important to us, (the theatre) needs to be thought of as an extra right now.”
She added that it’s a slow process, but that it’s to be expected considering the workload they have.
Vermeersch said she does understand the importance of live theatre to the community. The support the community theatre production of Hairspray last summer, in place of Souris Valley Theatre’s productions, showed there is interest in hosting live performances in the future.
Keeping the theatre is an “integral” part of the community for some, said Vermeersch.
“Definitely, people want theatre in their community. We’ve been able to bring talented people the community. There is definitely an interest in the arts. We are very pleased with the support we’ve received from people.”
She noted that it isn’t just a perk for community members, but also a draw for the city to have the theatre active. It’s a way to bring people in and entertain them once they’ve arrived.
Vermeersch remembers bringing musicals in and having something special for the people camping at Woodlawn Park.
“I was always proud to have that.”
Along with the plays, the theatre allows for an opportunity to expose youth to the performing arts.
There aren’t any plans for a youth theatre camp this year because of a lack of facilities, but Vermeersch said the camps are something they would like to reactivate as soon as the productions once again go live.
“We also want to bring it back into the mix, and share the talents of the professionals that they give to the youth.”
Vermeersch said they are looking into doing some kind of fundraiser later in the summer. She wasn’t sure what they would be planning, but suggested it might not be on the same scale as last year’s community musical. A coffee house setting or a talent show are some ideas the board might be considering.
Vermeersch said they are still without a theatre manager, so that is something the board will work on in the coming months.
A board meeting at the end of May will be an opportunity to get some things decided for how the theatre will move forward this summer.