Members of Lighthouse Productions Inc.’s board of directors are optimistic they have found a new home for the Grand Bank Regional Theatre.
On Dec. 5 a purchase and sale agreement was signed with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador to buy the Pentecostal Church in Grand Bank.
Since then, the board has been working to secure funding from the Grand Bank Development Corporation (GBDC) to purchase the building as well as the federal and provincial governments to complete the necessary renovations to turn the building into a theatre.
Coun. Jack Burfitt, who chairs the not-for-profit’s board, was asked for an update during Grand Bank town council’s meeting on Monday, Jan. 21.
“Everything is in motion,” said Burfitt, who is out of town until early February and was participating in the meeting via video conference. “I’m pretty positive that things will work out.”
Under the agreement with the Pentecostal Assemblies, Burfitt said Lighthouse Productions, which operates the theatre, had 90 days from Dec. 5 to complete the transaction.
Burfitt said he has been gathering quotes for the work to renovate the building. Coun. Stan Burt, also a member of the board, meanwhile, is in the process of completing a business plan for presentation to the GBDC, Burfitt said.
Burt and Deputy Mayor Clayton Welsh, who sits on the theatre’s board as well, spoke with The Southern Gazette further on the subject following the council meeting.
Burt said the cost to purchase the church is $100,000, while the renovations have been pegged at $400,000.
Meetings with the government funding agencies – the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) on the federal side and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation for the province – have been positive, according to Burt.
A fundraising committee comprised of members of the community in Grand Bank and Fortune has also been struck to raise the required funds for the venture.
Welsh feels the building has the makings of a great theatre space.
“It’s a beautiful spot,” he said.
“If we can get it and do what we want to do, it’s going to be a great setup,” Burt added.
The Grand Bank Theatre was unable to use its permanent home in the Samuel J. Harris Building for the 2018 season due to the unsafe condition of the structure. That building is now in the process of being torn down.
The Town of Grand Bank stepped in with one of its own buildings, the Bait Depot, to accommodate the theatre last summer, but rejected a proposal for that space to be used on a permanent basis.
During the meeting, Mayor Rex Matthews made the case for assistance from the GBDC, referring to the organization’s creation in 1991 following the collapse of the deep sea fishery with $6 million from the federal government and a mandate to diversify the town’s economy.
The theatre has operated in Grand Bank since 1995.
If the GBDC doesn’t come through for some reason, Matthews said other arrangements must be made.
“We’re going to have a theatre one way or another,” he said.