New theatre for all ages on, off stage

Enraptured audience members in Nechako Valley Secondary School’s small auditorium will no longer be roused by hard seating.

Staff from Integris Credit Union and directors of its community foundation presented to School District No. 91’s staff on Oct. 20 a donation of $150

Lights, sound, and cushion —  enraptured audience members in Nechako Valley Secondary School’s small auditorium will no longer be roused by hard seating.

On Oct. 20 in NVSS’s revamped small auditorium, the Integris Credit Union Community Foundation presented to School District No. 91 the $150,000 grant that enabled the space’s renovations.

Including LED lights, a new sound and insulation system, a high-definition screen and projector, as well as padded seating, construction of the now-renamed Integris Community Theatre had the students’ grandparents as its focus — with much of the budget used to ensure the comfort of the seats, said Tim Bancroft, the school district’s manager of facilities.

The collapsible new seating, allowing the space to become a cafeteria if necessary, can now hold up to 204 people, with room for 32 additional audience members along the sides of the theatre, Bancroft added.

For NVSS principal Ken Young, the quality and sound of the new space is better than expected — particularly as the new seating pops out with a button in three minutes and can now fit an entire grade of students, he said.

He added that the biggest complaint came from grade 12 students.

“They asked, ‘Why did you wait until we’re leaving?’”

Charlene Seguin, the school district’s superintendent, said it provides support for NVSS’s fine arts program, as well as decreasing the amount of clean up work at the end of each performance.

“Anything good is worth waiting for,” Seguin said. “And this is really good.”

The Integris donation came from their investment with the Vancity Community Foundation in 2002, when the Nechako Valley Credit Union — now renamed Integris — created its community foundation for promoting and providing charitable assistance in Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, Fraser Lake and surrounding areas, said Allison Felker, Vancity Community Foundation’s manager of fund development.

“It’s made a significant impact in building community and creating community amenities that can be added to the quality of life for the citizens,” Felkner said.

“The theatre is such a great example of a vision that people had…but didn’t have quite the available resources to make it possible,” she said. “We want to join together and really see this vision come to reality.”

Since its inception, the Integris Credit Union Community Foundation has granted more than $700,000 to charitable projects in the region, with the first larger grant to Fort St. James’ recycling centre in 2012, at $68,000,  said Dan Wingham, Integris’ manager of strategic partnerships and business development.

“There was an appetite from the school district, from the folks on our foundation board, even from Integris, to create a real community asset that those in the community can gather and host a variety of events, dramatic performances,” Wingham said.

He added that the final total was $50,000 more than the original budget of $100,000, payable over three years from now until 2017.

“We realized that if we really want the audience experience…that extends to the folks on stage, that whole packaged experience came at a higher price,” he said. “It’s here now, we don’t have to wait until 2018 to enjoy this.”