Split leaves Calgary arts venue short of light, sound equipment

Public help being sought to keep the Calgary performing arts space operating

Jamie Dunsdon, Calgary Young People's Theatre Artistic Producer, outside the West Village Theatre. TIM FORD / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

One of Calgary’s indie performing arts venues is asking for help.

The West Village Theatre, located at 2007 – 10 Avenue SW, has been operated cooperatively since 2014 between three companies: Ghost River Theatre, Calgary Young People’s Theatre (CYPT), and Green Fools Theatre.

This June, however, Green Fools Theatre will be departing from the West Village, and taking their sound and lighting equipment with them. Remaining companies Ghost River Theatre and and CYPT are seeking the public’s help in replacing the equipment, which staff say is necessary to keep the performance space functional.

“We have about $20,000 of equipment to replace,” said Kate Stadel, Ghost River Theatre’s General Manager and President of the West Village Theatre Board.

“We’ve exhausted all of our granting options for the time being, so now we need to find a way to save the space.”

Stadel has organized a GoFundMe page to raise the $20,000 they need by June 2019.

“We’re still in a bit of a scramble,” said Stadel. “We don’t quite know what will happen if we can’t get the $20,000. We’re theatre people and we’re resourceful, but in order for a theatre to be a theatre it needs to have lights.”

Jamie Dunsdon, the Artistic Producer of West Village partner CYPT, adds that the group is also pursuing donations through other means.

“Another aspect of our crowdsourcing is turning to communities and other theatres and asking them to donate one or two lights if they can,” said Dunsdon. “We need about 14 lights. We’re reaching out right now and hoping we’ll hear back soon.”

Dunsdon and Stadel emphasize that the West Village Theatre isn’t just a stage, but also a community hub and educational space.

“We do summer camps, we do drama classes,” said Dunsdon.

“Without this space, CYPT would need to rent venues that don’t exist in the same way, and aren’t necessarily affordable. We wouldn’t be able to give as many kids the chance to find who they are. It would be devastating for CYPT.”

Shutting the space down would put more small theatre companies in a bind.

“Community and collaboration hubs are really important,” said Stadel. “The reality is it’s not only CYPT and Ghost River who would lose space, it also floods the market with all the rentals that come in here annually. We’re all going to be competing for the Pumphouse, the Grand…they’re great venues, but taking one more away and saturating the market, it could end certain rental companies.”

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