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Key City Theatre making strides in renovations

Cranbrook’s Key City Theatre is making headway on Phase 2 of a major upgrade project to the building.

The Theatre said the second phase of upgrades will include a new chiller, state of the art LED lighting, an overhauled electrical system and safety upgrades with a new fire curtain installed on the stage.

“The Phase 2 upgrades began earlier than planned when the lockdown happened in early Spring, and we managed to get the 28-year-old stage surface replaced back in early April,” said Galen Olstead, Managing Director. “With the help of our funding partners, we are aiming to breathe new life into the building and bring at least another 40 good years to the venue.”

The Theatre said one positive aspect of the pandemic was the time it gave to work on upgrades.

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The project was funded by School District No. 5 with a $1.1 million contribution, $670,000 from Canadian Heritage, Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) with $400,000 and an additional $150,000 from the RDEK. School District No. 5, CBT and The City of Cranbrook were major funders in Phase 1.

Once the renovations are complete, both phases will see more than $3.5-million invested in the facility.

Landon Elliott, President of the Key City Theatre Society board of directors sees many positives for the performing arts despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the short term, this has been a challenge, our over 600 seat theatre has been reduced to a maximum of 50 seat capacity. Despite this, demand for arts and community is strong. Currently, we are running offsite events with a 100% sellout rate and anticipate all of our events in 2020 to be sold out,” explained Elliott. “In the long run, I truly believe that this global pandemic will make us stronger. As an organization, we have been reinvesting and rethinking how we will operate.”

Elliott said he has a sense of optimism for what the future holds for the theatre and performing arts.

“I believe that the energy and desire for the arts has been building, and when restrictions are raised, we will see record-breaking audience demand. In addition, many of our local community members have taken the time during COVID to relearn and fall back in love with their artistic sides. I believe we will see new groups form, and new talents discovered.”

The Theatre said its plans for the season look different than a typical year, but it will bring opportunities for people to enjoy some live entertainment.

On September 3, a sold-out Chantal Kreviazuk concert will take place at the Royal Alexandra Hall at the Cranbrook History Centre.

“The shows are going to be more intimate, up close and personal and we are excited to be working with local venues to find new and interesting places to present artists while the work is being done at the theatre,” said Olstead. “Performing arts will always find a way. There are obstacles to be overcome, but we are all determined to meet this moment creatively.”

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