23 June 2016 — The National Arts Centre (NAC) will donate more than 1,300 seats from its largest venue, Southam Hall, to the Studio Theatre in Perth, Ontario, Ottawa’s Woodroffe High School, and the Astor Theatre in Liverpool, Nova Scotia – the province’s oldest performing arts venue. The seats will be transferred next week as work begins on the renovation of Southam Hall over the summer to make major and much needed improvements.
“We are so pleased that the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall seats will help extend the lives of three wonderful theatres in Perth, Ottawa and Liverpool, Nova Scotia,” said NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf.
Woodroffe High School had been considering a fundraising drive to replace their auditorium seats. They were badly worn and many no longer worked. Woodroffe will receive 720 seats.
“Woodroffe High School is very grateful to the NAC for these seats, which will allow us to keep using our auditorium for student assemblies, community events, theatrical productions and our commencement ceremonies,” said Principal Bill Arden.
The Astor Theatre is the oldest performing arts venue in Nova Scotia. In 2002 the Astor Theatre celebrated its 100th anniversary, and is now undergoing renovations. The theatre has hosted many touring artists over the years, including Rita MacNeil, Natalie MacMaster, Tommy Hunter, George Fox, Mr. Dressup, Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. The NAC will donate 450 seats, completely replacing the Astor’s original seats in the orchestra and balcony.
“As Nova Scotia’s oldest performing arts venue, these NAC seats will be going to a worthy home, and a very appreciative community,” said Michael Boudreau, Chair of the Astor Theatre’s Board of Directors.
Perth’s Studio Theatre, which is receiving 200 seats, opened its doors in 1994. Volunteers from the community pulled together to purpose-build the theatre from an empty room on the second floor of a heritage building in downtown Perth, with a tiny lobby and the bare necessities to put on plays. Its 197 seats came from a movie theatre in Arnprior that was being renovated. Through fundraising and proceeds from ticket sales, the theatre has since added an elevator and an attractive new lobby with a bar and art gallery, as well as new and renovated washrooms. Studio Theatre Productions puts on eight plays every year, all by volunteers. The theatre is presenting two productions this summer – Neil Simon’s London Suite and Bingo Ladies – the Musical!, and a full 2016-2017 season.
“These seats from the NAC’s Southam Hall seats are a godsend for the Studio Theatre,” said theatre President Penny Silberhorn. “Ours needed replacing, and this donation will help our community theatre enormously.”
The NAC’s Southam Hall renovation, which begin next week, includes new seats; the addition of mid aisles and a cross aisle that will greatly enhance the customer experience and accessibility for patrons; new hardwood flooring which will contribute to improved acoustics; and many production upgrades. Southam Hall will re-open the first week of October.