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Upgrades underway at Nelson's Capitol Theatre

Capitol Theatre assistant manager Eva McKimm, board member Heather Haake, and executive director Stephanie Fisher are excited about the recent upgrades at the theatre, which include new flooring in the lobby and an exterior paint job.  - Sam Van Schie photos
Capitol Theatre assistant manager Eva McKimm, board member Heather Haake, and executive director Stephanie Fisher are excited about the recent upgrades at the theatre, which include new flooring in the lobby and an exterior paint job.
— image credit: Sam Van Schie photos

For the first time since its revitalization 25 years ago, Nelson's Capitol Theatre is getting some significant upgrades.

About 30,000 people pass through the 426-seat performance space each year to take in a rich program of live theatre, dance, comedy and concerts.

"With that much traffic, you expect some wear and tear on the building," explained executive director Stephanie Fischer.

When the City of Nelson decided spend around $100,000 to replace the theatre's HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system in 2012 — which it's been doing in many city-owned building to reduce corporate green house gas emissions — Fischer couldn't help but think what else the theatre could have done with that kind of budget.

So, she began reaching out to other funding bodies, to see if they would match the city's investment. A year later, the notices of funding approval are still rolling in.

Fischer didn't want to disclose the total dollar figure that the theatre received from funders, but suffice to say it surpassed the goal of matching what the city spent.

This past fall, the Capitol got a new exterior paint job and the outdoor poster box was replaced. During the Christmas holidays, flooring in the front lobby was replaced and new bathroom sinks were installed.

Within the year, the theatre also will replace its dance floor, stage curtains, lighting and technical equipment. Improvements will be made to the orchestra pit and the rear loading bay. And the front entrance door will be made more wheelchair accessible.

Most of the replacements are just a matter of swapping something old and worn out for a newer version of the same thing, Fisher explained. It's unlikely patrons will notice much difference, but production companies that rent the space might.

"A lot of companies want side lighting on the stage, and now we'll be able to do that," she said, "And we'll have the right size curtains … no more seeing all the feet when the curtain is closed."

The organizations that have contributed to the renovations include City of Nelson, Regional District of Central Kootenay, Amy Ferguson Institute, Columbia Basin Trust's community development program, and Heritage Canada's cultural space program for the facility improvement project.

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