A rendering of the Belfry Theatre’s lobby once the $1-million renovations are complete. Contributed illustration

Belfry Theatre set to undergo first renovation in 27 years

Upgrades to the lobby will be the first in 27 years.

Looking at the lobby in the Belfry Theatre, Ivan Habel envisions a space that’s much more open and vibrant.

He sees a brighter, more contepomorary lobby with spaces for people to mingle before and after performances, and enough open space for audiences to move from the concession to their seats.

That vision will be coming to life this summer after a roughly year-long fundraising campaign to complete the building’s first major renovation in 27 years.

The Belfry’s Capital Campaign quietly kicked off last spring to raise $1 million for renovations, which include creating an new atrium, expanding the concession area, installing improved sound insulation, repairing the theatre space and lobby, replacing the seating, and adding stalls to the women’s washrooms.

“It’s going to be very exciting. The new lobby will have a fresh new look, more comfortable seating for people so that they can relax and enjoy the space as much as we do,” said Habel, the Belfry’s executive director, adding the space also hosts a number of community events on top of its annual productions.

The cost of the project was pegged at roughly $1 million, with $340,000 from the federal government’s Canada 150 community infrastrucutre program. Over the last year, the theatre has received donations from corporations, foundations, private individuals and through fundraisers, raising roughly $410,000, for a total of $750,000.

Last summer, the theatre started the first phase of renovations by replacing the theatre seats. Now, it’s making a final public push for donations to begin the last phase of renovations when their season comes to a close in May.

“This building has been here for hundreds of years and is a cultural landmark here in the city. We believe the Belfry plays a really critical and cornerstone role in terms of the arts community,” said Habel, noting while the province hasn’t committed any funding to the project yet, he’s confident the public will step up to the plate.

“We’re hoping that our local regional public will help us move this project forward and help us pay for that final couple of hundred thousand that we need now.”

The theatre resides in a former Bapist Church that was built between 1887 and 1892.

To donate visit belfry.bc.ca, call the box office at 250-385-6815, or in person at 1291 Gladstone Ave.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com