Renovations and upgrades at the Key City Theatre are nearing completion. Trevor Crawley photo.

Key City Theatre upgrades nearing completion

A number of renovations and upgrades at the Key City Theatre are nearing completion as the building gets set to kick off a fall schedule of performances and events.

The building has gone through a few phases of upgrades over the past few years, including roofing upgrades, and is now close to wrapping up the latest renovations which include new electrical and state-of-the-art LED lighting systems, expanded dressing rooms, and renovations of the box office and general office space areas.

What started off as a major project addressing mechanical systems — such as air flow — and electrical systems soon evolved into something more, according to Galen Olstead, Managing Director for the Key City Theatre.

“About halfway through the project, it expand significantly and so we had things like a new fire curtain added in, we did lighting, so an all new lighting system and then we did some facility upgrades like the flooring and the dressing room,” Olstead said.

“…There was just so much opportunity to do the fixes this past year, so it was a good time to do it.”

Walking through the facility, the upgrades are readily apparent.

Walls have been torn apart and rebuilt as new electrical wiring and panels have been installed, while new flooring has been put in throughout the building, and an old storage space was repurposed into a new dressing room. A fire curtain capable of separating the stage from the audience in case of an emergency has also been installed.

Funding for the latest round of upgrades came in from numerous sources, including School District 5 ($1 million), Columbia Basin Trust ($400,000), federal government ($650,000) provincial government ($69,929) and the Regional District of East Kootenay ($150,000).

The City of Cranbrook previously contributed $150,000 towards the roofing upgrades in an earlier phase of renovations at the Key City Theatre, while the RDEK provided a larger cost share this time around.

While the project needed to be done anyway, the COVID-19 pandemic made it easier to close the theatre without disrupting scheduled performances.

“The theatre has done really well,” Olstead said. “We were lucky to have a major project to undertake during the time, which was unintentional. We had planned this before things shut down, but…it was positive to have a project happening. The other piece is that we had some good supports — we had fantastic support from the City of Cranbrook and then through our provincial and federal funders.

“So even as we’re not presenting things in the last year, we still had really much needed support from those groups.”

The Key City Theatre is officially reopening doors on Nov. 1 ahead of it’s first presentation inside the newly renovated facility with “Straight Outta Lockdown” on Nov. 5 — an evening of stand-up comedy featuring Lisa Baker and Mark McCue.

Celeigh Cardinal, an Edmonton-based folk singer-songwriter who won a Juno Award for Indigenous Music Album of the Year in 2020, is set to perform the next evening on Nov. 6 at the Key City Theatre.