School board approves $15K for Stelly’s theatre

Grant helping fund a feasibility study to investigate options for a world-class theatre at the high school.

The vision of a world-class theatre at Stelly’s Secondary School in Central Saanich just got one step closer to being realized.

At their May 13 meeting, the School District 63 Board of Trustees approved a request from the Society for the Community Arts Theatre at Stelly’s for $15,000 to help fund a feasibility study to explore what exactly is possible at the site.

“It’s an important milestone for us,” said Ron Broda, president of the Society.

“It’s one of our first victories. We’re in the warm up track now, and now we can see the start line.”

Broda has been working with parents and community members who say Stelly’s needs a modern, dedicated theatre — and there’s no halfway measures about their plan.

The Society is pushing for a theatre with capacity for 500-plus people, a balcony, separate rehearsal space, a fly tower, orchestra pit, dressing rooms, large lobby and a sprung dance floor.

It’s a project that comes with a multi-million dollar price tag — last estimates from the Society were up around $20 million.

But Broda has been quick to point out that in the past there were several similar projects on the lower Mainland.

The Bell Performing Arts Centre in Surrey, in particular, is a good example.

Owned by School District 36 (Surrey), the Bell Centre offers state of the art facilities for international and Canadian acts, including the Vancouver Symphony.

Broda’s dream for Stelly’s follows that same standard and he stresses that any theatre built at Stelly’s would have to be a strong pillar of the community as well.

The grant from the School Board will double what the Society has already raised themselves, and is a “substantial endorsement,” says Broda.

SD63 had already pledged their support in principle, even going so far as to appoint Trustee Barb Menzies as the official liaison to the project, but the approval of cold, hard cash is  a welcome step forward.

“It’s a recognition that there really is a need for a new facility here.”

With nearly $30,000 in hand, the Society is ready to start the work on a feasibility study, and they’re looking to fundraise the rest — about $20,000 more — to be able to finish the study by the end of summer.

For more information or to donate to the project, visit theatreatstellys.com.