Vancouver’s Green Thumb Theatre has officially opened its new rehearsal space in the city’s oldest school building.
The theatre troupe, which performs for young audiences across North America, has moved into Carleton Hall and an adjacent building located near Kingsway and Joyce Street.
“It means the world to us,” general manager Nadine Carew told the Straight.
An official grand-opening ceremony was held today (June 6) at Carleton Hall, a former schoolhouse built in 1896.
Green Thumb is moving into the space as part of an agreement with the Vancouver School Board to restore and repurpose the building.
Carleton Hall, located behind Sir Guy Carleton elementary school, faced potential demolition after being damaged by arson in 2008.
The roughly 2,000-square-foot building has been renovated and now features two rehearsal studios.
Green Thumb plans to rehearse in the studios for around 12 weeks a year and to also rent them out to other arts and community groups.
A 1,400-square-foot building located next to Carleton Hall is also being used as an office for the nonprofit group’s administrative work.
Green Thumb is renting the property at below-market rate as part of a 20-year lease agreement with the school board.
As part of the project, Green Thumb Theatre has been responsible for fundraising and managing the renovation work.
The group is still looking to raise around $220,000 to cover the project’s cost of $1.5 million.
Contributions have already come from all three levels of government and other donors.
During today’s grand opening, school board chair Patti Bacchus praised the cooperation that went into the project.
“This is just to me such a stunning example of what we can do when we’re willing to sit down and consider new ideas and make things happen,” she said.
The move ends several years of instability for Green Thumb.
In 2008, the group had to leave its long-time headquarters in East Vancouver because of the redevelopment of the Cultch arts centre.
That left Green Thumb shifting between various office spaces and using rehearsal space wherever it could be found.
Carew said having the administrative staff and creative staff together will make life easier for the organization.
“The more stable and economically efficient that we can make our basic operations…it means we can tour for longer, we can tour with larger casts, we can tour to more remote regions.”