The Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation (LPACF) has its funds to finally give the community its long-desired permanent home for the arts.
On Monday, council made the unanimous decision to award $140,937.50 to LPACF through the Community Builder Partnership Grant, enabling the group to solidify their funding for the purchase of the Trinity Lutheran Church building, located at 5227 C&E Trail, and reduce their mortgage principal.
“We are over the moon and very excited to finally have a permanent performance space in the community, and we are grateful that city council sees the many benefits of this initiative,” said Grant Harder, LPACF chair. “The grant money they have given us will go a long way in making the purchase of the building more affordable.”
The LPACF officially takes possession Oct. 1, 2019.
The non-profit group has been working towards creating an arts hub in the community since 2010. Initially, they came up with the Cranna Cultural Community Centre – the C4 Initiative – which would have seen a brand new $27,000,000 facility built near Cranna Lake to address the need for a performance space in the community. However, it wasn’t deemed feasible for the near future and LPACF abandoned it in favour of finding a different space in the community for use in the near future.
In mid-2018, they entered in an agreement with the Trinity Lutheran Church to lease the facility, but just a month into their year-long lease, the church announced they were putting the building up for sale for $850,000.
The LPACF scrambled to put their name forward to buy the building, and upon learning another party was interested in purchasing the building, approached council for financial support. Council agreed in principle to provide that dollar support in December 2018, however, in April 2019, voted instead to help the foundation develop alternate proposals for a performing arts centre and the group thought they would lose the opportunity to buy the building.
That changed over the summer as a private benefactor stepped forward to aid in the purchase and they were able to secure a private financier for the mortgage of the building.
Harder said one of the LPACF board members was cutting a client’s hair and talking about the Performing Arts Centre’s plight and the offered their aid.
“She was telling him the story and he said: ‘maybe I can help.’ Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That came together and it was wonderful,” he said.
Additionally, they were able to get the project cost down to $563,750, according to the grant application, meaning that with the city’s grant allocation, and a potential matching grant from Lacombe County – an application which has yet to be made- they are well on their way to having the building completely paid for.
The LPACF has already put $40,000 worth of renovations into the facility, including bathroom improvements, painting of the sanctuary and a stage rebuild. While there’s plans to expand down the road, Harder says the space is “comfortable” and meets their needs for now.
If there was any lingering doubt about the need for such a facility in the community, Harder says they’ve clearly proven otherwise with their ongoing concert series, dance classes and theatre performances scheduled.
“We’re busy,” he said. “We always knew there was a pent-up demand for a theatre space in Lacombe and the fact we’re so busy right now just proves we were right – and it feels good to be right every once in awhile.”
If the news wasn’t exciting enough on its own, the LPAC has already planned grand opening celebrations for this weekend as part of the Lacombe Culture and Harvest Festival.
“Our committee, alongside Lacombe’s citizens and business owners, have been working for over a year to transform this space into a performance space for our community. Come celebrate with us and see what we have been working on,” said Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Vice President Brittany Mulder in a release.
Festivities will kick off on Friday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. with a selection of local short films originally featured at the 2019 Central Alberta Film Festival.
Saturday, Sept. 28 will see a lot more going on, starting with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. commemorating the opening of the facility.
Following the ceremony, Maddox Dance Company will host drop-in dance activities until 1 p.m., while Kyle Key the Magician will perform from 12:30 until 3:30 p.m. An instrument zoo will be open from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and other drop-in art activities will be held throughout the day. The Lacombe & District Historical Society will also have a historical quilt display in the facility.
Mother Goose Playschool, which is also on site, will have an open house.
At 7 p.m., the group will host a free concert with local area country artist Jamie Woodfin. Those wanting to attend are encouraged to get tickets through the Eventbrite or by calling the office at (403)599-4386 as seating is limited to 150 and tickets will be taken before walk-ins.