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Performing arts foundation looks to make church a home for the arts

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

The Trinity Lutheran Church could provide a home for the performing arts in Lacombe, should an application to rezone the lot be successful. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)

The Trinity Lutheran Church could provide a home for the performing arts in Lacombe, should an application to rezone the lot be successful. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)

The Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation hopes it has found a home for the arts in the city.

Along with the Trinity Lutheran Church, the non-profit organization has formally applied to the City of Lacombe to rezone the church from Residential Detached District (R1) to Community Services District (CS). A rezone would allow theatrical performances to take place at the facility, which they say would address a desperate need for a performing arts space in the community.

“There is no dedicated performance space in the city,” said Grant Harder, president of the foundation. “We don't see the C4 - Cranna Community Cultural Centre - being built on the banks of Cranna Lake in the immediate future, so this provides us an excellent opportunity for a stepping stone to supply a need for the arts in Lacombe.”

The performing arts foundation went before council in 2016 and asked to be included in the 10 Year Capital Plan for just a fraction of the total projected $27,000,000 cost. Ultimately, however, the project was excluded from plan in favour of West Area Development servicing, highway and other infrastructure upgrades, including the airport and the downtown core.

Still, shows must go on, and the group set its sights on finding a space to tide them over until the C4 initiative can be realized.

While finalized agreements with the church are subject to successful rezoning, they believe they’ve found what they are looking for, and are excited about the potential of the building.

“It has great acoustics, it’s centrally located and easy to find. It has ample parking. The components are all there,” said Harder. “It’s got a great vestibule and a common area for people to socialize before they go to see a show.”

The space seats about 150 people, making it ideal for many of Lacombe’s small productions, from theatre groups, to the smaller dance studios.

“When you’re an artist performing to a half-full theatre, it’s not nearly as nice as performing to a packed house,” he said. “I’d rather play for 150 standing room only than play to 200 in a half full theatre. It’s a huge difference. The energy and ambience levels come up.”

What’s more, having a facility within the city will give residents another reason to stay in the community, rather than heading to Red Deer for recitals and other productions.

At present, the city has no suitable venue for the three main dance studios, training between 100-300 dancers each per year, with another 300 in Blackfalds, and 130 in Ponoka. The Lacombe Art Guild and community bands are also in dire need of permanent rehearsal space. While the church won’t be able to accommodate the larger functions, smaller functions would no longer be forced to leave Lacombe.

“Lacombe needs something. There are so many groups that are looking for a place. This would create that for them,” said Brittany Mulder, vice president of the foundation, and a dance instructor with Maddox Dance Company.

“A lot of these groups don't have their own space. They need to rent hourly for rehearsing...Why go to Red Deer when we can provide that space?

“Lacombe is overflowing with talent and skill. Having a home or hub for that would be a huge asset to the City of Lacombe.”

The rezoning application was given first reading at city council’s Feb. 12 meeting. A public hearing was set for March 12 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.

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