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Courtenay theatre planning equipment upgrade thanks to federal funds

The federal government will provide $45,000 to help upgrade the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay.

The money comes from the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan announced Thursday.

This program seeks to improve physical conditions for artistic creativity and arts presentations or exhibitions. It is also designed to increase access for Canadians to performing arts, visual arts, media arts, museum collections, and heritage displays.

“Our government recognizes the importance of maintaining cultural spaces in our communities,” said Duncan, also minister of aboriginal affairs. “We are pleased to invest in an important institution like this, which offers a unique performance facility capable of serving multiple disciplines right here in the Comox Valley area.”

Funding will allow the Sid Williams Theatre Society to replace outdated sound, lighting and backstage communications equipment with state-of-the-art equipment in its 500-seat theatre.

This will enhance the theatre’s rental capabilities and its ability to support local performers and the community at large. The upgrades will also improve safety for theatre personnel.

“In a smaller regional community, our performing-arts facility serves many needs and many diverse users, from student workshops to commercial touring productions and film festivals, from live theatre to a summer music school, and everything in between,” said theatre general manager Deborah Renz. “This funding will give us an opportunity to upgrade our technical and staging systems to a contemporary level and improve our aging building’s ability to continue serving our community artistically, as well as from a safety and an ecological standpoint.”

The Sid Williams Theatre is operated jointly by the Sid Williams Theatre Society and the City of Courtenay. For more than 25 years, the theatre has played host to a broad range of local and national arts performances.

As part of its mandate to enhance artistic, cultural, and economic activities in the Comox Valley, the society offers a bursary program for Grade 12 students who wish to continue their education in the performing arts.

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