Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lights Up

The Fergus Grand Theatre passed a bit of a milestone last week, and although now one was around to witness it, the significance of this event will be felt by every group that uses the theatre from here on in.

On Wednesday, March 12th, at 5:30 pm, I walked into the theatre with the final new lighting fixture that was required to complete our "front-of-house" lighting plot. This means that from here on in most if not all of the face light, ie, the brightest, most important fixtures used to illuminate the performers, will be coming from new, powerful, energy efficient fixtures. For those of you who want the technical terms, there are now 15 zoom ellipsoidal reflector spotlights, 10 SL 23/50's and 5 SL 15/32's providing state-of-the-art lighting capabilities, and dramatically enhancing the buildings' value to its users.

There are two reasons why this event was so monumental. First, it solves the "lighting crisis" that has plagued the Grand for the last ten years. The old fixtures that were providing front-of-house lighting were getting so far beyond their useful life expectancy that their reflectors were literally melting away. The amount of light that was hitting the stage was dropping so low that all creativity, all esthetic lighting design considerations had to be thrown out the window simply for the sake of getting enough light onstage to see the actors clearly. And even that was getting nearly impossible, so these new lights were in no way a "luxury purchase" for the theatre: this was an emergency.

The seond reason this event is so monumental is that it was funded entirely through the efforts of the Fergus Grand Theatre Volunteer committee. This small organization, through providing front-of-house services and concessions services to events at the theatre, has raised the ENTIRE cost of purchasing these new lights. At approximately $600 per fixture that's $9000 worth of new equipment for the theatre, without it costing the taxpayers of Centre Wellington a single penny!

And that's not the half of it. Over the same period of time as the lights were being replaced the volunteers have also purchased new microphones, speakers, cables and a litany of other equipment large and small for the theatre, sometimes through their own efforts, and sometimes by partnering with a user group, business or community organization.

As a user, I'd like to thank the volunteers for all that they have done to improve the quality of our productions at the Fergus Grand Theatre, and I encourage other user groups and individuals to do the same. True, the township may pay the bills and take out the garbage, but it is because of the volunteers that we have a truly useable, viable theatre building today.

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