G.S. Lakie Convertible Theatre/ Summer Arts Institute
Created October  2, 2011 by Craig DeJong
**VISION/MISSION (Community Convertible Performance and Arts Education Venue)**
G.S. Lakie School is located in West Lethbridge and has a large Foyer that is a multi-use space. During the school day it is used as a meeting area, an alternate classroom, a rehearsal space and physical activity centre. Outside of the school day, it is used as an athletic training/practice area, rehearsal space and performing venue for school/community concerts, meetings and theatre presentations.
The Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta region has few convertible Arts venues. The Foyer at G.S. Lakie has been discovered to be a flexible venue which converts quickly and effectively into a concert hall/theatre that can seat (depending on the configuration) between 200 and 700 patrons in the audience. Community organizations at large, including the Lethbridge Community Band Society, Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra and New West Theatre have all documented their support of the further development of the Foyer as a viable alternative for community performing arts presentations that will benefit the entire Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta region. We have received grants that have allowed us to acquire non-permanent elements such as portable stage deckings, risers, portable sound equipment, draperies/scrim. We have made it our mandate to share those non-affixed resources with other community Arts organizations in our region whenever possible.
What the Foyer lacks is the technical capacity to support theatrical lighting. We need to build a technical booth! Beyond that, we must reconfigure the electrical wiring and install a new dimmer panel to support theatrical lighting devices. This is the next step in making the space into a viable convertible community theatre.
Upon completion of the proposed technical conversion, the G.S. Lakie Foyer area will have the ability to be a highly functioning convertible theatrical/concert performing space. The area could support performances in virtually any theatrical formation: Traditional Proscenium, Thrust and The Round. Audience seating in these varied formations varies from 200 – 700 patrons.
Beyond the capabilities of the theatre as a school and community performance/concert space, the facility has even larger potential as a Community Arts Education venue. The large open area of the Foyer, the proximity of the Dance Studio, Guitar Studio, Drama Room/Stage, Art Room, Wood Shop and Instrumental Music Room would make the space ideal for Fine/Performing Arts workshops, camps and festivals. Such programming, offered during the school year and also during the summer months, could be of great benefit to youth (and adults) from all across Southern Alberta. The convertible nature of the space will allow for innovative educational programming to be offered in Dramatic Arts, Musical Arts, Music Theatre, Theatre Technologies, Dance and other Fine/Performing Arts disciplines. It is our belief that the development of this convertible space could provide the infrastructure to have a lasting legacy of beneficial programming for Arts Education and Performing Arts in the Southern Alberta geographic area.
What have we done so far? We have engineering reports, architectural drawings and a model of the proposed technical booth structure. We have begun fund raising and seeking private/corporate donations to help support elements of the technical conversion project.
We believe that this technical conversion is the final piece that will lead to our ultimate goal: THE CREATION OF A FACILITY THAT CAN HOUSE INCREDIBLE SUMMER PERFORMING ARTS CAMPS/WORKSHOPS AND FESTIVALS FOR YOUTH FROM ACROSS WESTERN CANADA. The physical structure of the existing building is ideal: there is a large open Foyer, with a Dance Studio, Guitar Studio, Drama Room/Stage all directly adjacent. There is also a Recording Studio/Music Room, Art Room and Set Construction Shop just down the hall. We believe that, once properly equipped, the potential summer arts and concert programs could impact thousands of students/citizens from across the region per season!
We have the plans! We are ready to move forward with construction of the Technical Booth this Summer with completion by Fall 2012. We just need some more financial support. We have enough funds to build the booth structure. We believe that a $75,000 - $100,000 grant from the Aviva Community Fund would cover the cost of the new dimmer panel, subsequent electrical wiring, and equipping that technical booth with the technology to allow the space to operate as a truly convertible theatre/arts education centre/community concert venue.
We believe that we are close to achieving our dream for Youth and the Arts! This centre would be used by youth and the community all year round as a learning place and gathering space: a place to create and share for both young and old. Your financial support of this legacy project would be so greatly appreciated by this and the next generation!