ECHO Players Society is looking to make it mechanically easier to raise and bring down the heavy curtain at its main stage in the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach.
The non-profit organization has been manually opening the main curtain and it has become increasingly problematic for the members, according to one of the society’s board of directors Jim Windsor.
The curtain Windsor described is heavy because of its large size and also its composition. By regulation, Windsor said, it has to be made of fire-retardant material.
The society’s plan is to motorized their main stage curtain, said Windsor, who related the project to the directors of the Oceanside Services Committee at its inaugural meeting on May 16.
They sought financial assistance from the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Northern Community Economic Development Program.
With the theatre one of the oldest used buildings in Qualicum Beach and a designatedheritage building, Windsor said the hinges and the pulleys are aging and significantly overworked.
“Why is that an issue?” Windsor asked.
“Because, if I can be as polite as I can, our membership, more than 200 members of Echo Players is an accurate reflection of the demography of Qualicum. The average age of our membership is late ’60s early ’70s. We have several members in their ’80s. Pulling that very heavy curtain open and shut several times each night is becoming problematic. We have had several members who have strained muscles and so forth.”
Windsor said motorizing the curtain is mainly for health and safety of their members although it will also enhance the artistic flow of a play or performance.
The cost of the project is approximately $17,000 and the society’s art fund balance is $7,500.
They needed to raise $9,500 to cover the balance of the cost. The society requested funding of $4,250 from NCED but was granted $3,850 by the committee. The motorization of the main stage curtain will result in one or two days employment by a local electrical company.
Once the work is done, in the long term, it will make live productions at the Village Theatre even more enjoyable for patrons and also attractive for rental by such groups as the Bard to Broadway Theatre Society, the Qualicum Beach School of Dance and the TV show ‘Chesapeake Shores’.