Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre receives funds for major performance-space upgrades

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      The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre has the $250,000 it needs for major upgrades to its increasingly in-demand performance space.

      The centre just received $125,000 from the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Cultural Spaces Fund for the renovations, an amount it will pair with $125,000 from its own fundraising to proceed.

      With the funding, the facility--which hosts shows for everyone from the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and Music on Main to the Talking Stick Festival, Vancouver international Dance Festival, and New Works--will be able to increase its seating from 175 to 200. More importantly, all the new seating will be more comfortable and upholstered.

      'The bleacher-style seating used to take an hour-and-a-half minimum to retract," Roundhouse spokesperson Hanne-Lene Dalgleish told the Straight about the space, which can be reconfigured for many different show formats and events. "The new [automated] one should take less than 30 minutes to removie it, and that should reduce the costs to renters and our community partners."

      Located in the former diesel shed of the old Roundhouse, the brick-walled performance centre has seen increasing demand since it was installed for the community-centre opening two decades ago--and not only for its flexible space and number of seats. Only a handful of other venues in Vancouver sit in that in-demand 150-200 range, and the Roundhouse is currently hosting an average of about 135 shows per year. Because of its community role, it also offers outreach for arts groups that others can't. In tandem with its shows, an organization has to hold a free public workshop or event that ties into the production; an example would be the VIDF's popular dancer drawing sessions.

      Battle of the Birds at the Roundhouse performance space
      Judith Guzman


      Dalgleish says the renovations will also upgrade the technical elements in the theatre, from lighting through to the PA system. And the sightlines will be improved with the moving of the sound boothfrom house right to the back upper part of the theatre.

      She said the seating and sound booth renos should be completed by Labour Day, with the improved lighting and audio systems coming by about the end of October.

      In a press announcement,  Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, released this statement: “This investment in the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre demonstrates our government’s ongoing commitment to developing and improving access to cultural institutions for all Canadians. I am thrilled that this support will allow the Roundhouse Performance Centre to increase its capacity and better serve the community.”