BONNYVILLE – A new theatre in the Lakeland is slated for construction, following an official groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 22 at Bonnyville Centralized High School (BCHS).
The Clayton Bellamy Foundation for the Arts is spearheading the building of the new theatre.
The Foundation was established during the pandemic to provide youth in the Lakeland a bursary to help them pursue post-secondary education in the arts, as well as to create programming for kids to experience the fine arts, which includes dance, music, drama, painting, and drawing, said Clayton Bellamy, president and founder of the Foundation.
“That quickly expanded from our smaller goals to having the opportunity to build a new theatre here in the Lakeland,” he said, explaining the Foundation leased a space at the old high school gym at BCHS.
That space will be retrofitted into a “state-of-the-art, 340-seat theatre,” said Bellamy. The theatre is quoted at $2.4 million, and the Foundation has raised just over $1.5 million so far.
Prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony, various musical performances by local musicians and Bellamy took place on Friday. Attending the performances and the ceremony included members of the Bonnyville community, MLA Scott Cyr, and delegates from municipalities such as MD of Bonnyville Reeve Barry Kalinski, Town of Bonnyville Mayor Elisa Brosseau, and City of Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland.
The Bonnyville Fine Arts Society (BFAS) also presented a $60,000 donation for the theatre during the ceremony.
Patricia Perry, president of the Society, said one of the things the Society learned during the fundraising process is, “how much people care about the arts in our area.”
Perry thanked all those who contributed to the total amount raised, adding several fundraising efforts took place, with volunteers making quilts and holding silent auctions, for example.
While about $1 million dollars is still left to fundraise, “we’re confident,” said Bellamy. “We’ve got a lot of great people working with us, and of the greatest things that we have is momentum.”
Bellamy thanked the Bonnyville community, as well as surrounding communities in the Lakeland such as St. Paul, Cold Lake, and Lac La Biche.
“Everyone has really gotten behind this initiative, and it’s amazing because this is servicing the next generation. We’re here to build the next generation of great artists.”
According to Bellamy, “This is about our children,” and offering an outlet for kids to learn in an environment that can inspire them, regardless of what they hope to do in the future.
Asked what the next step is for the Foundation, Bellamy said they will continue to fundraise and apply for municipal, provincial, and federal grants.
Also, “If anyone wants to purchase a seat for $250, they’ll get a name plaque on the seat,” said Bellamy. Or if people are interested in volunteering during the Foundation’s annual events, Bellamy encourages them to visit the Foundation’s website at claytonbellamyfoundation.org
The new theatre will be named Strathcona Performing Arts Centre after the theatre’s naming sponsor, Strathcona Industries. The company has donated $250,000 to the project.