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What is the future of the Playhouse?

Adam Travis / The Brunswickan

Adam Travis / The Brunswickan

Fifty years after it was built, the future of one of Fredericton’s most iconic buildings is in question.

Last January, a technical evaluation of the Fredericton Playhouse was conducted and revealed that the building is in poor condition, and that it might be financially smarter to build a new venue as opposed to refurbishing the existing location.

Built in 1964, the Playhouse and its staff are looking for any suggestions on how to keep the building the way it is.

“The current facility should not simply be replaced,” said executive director Tim Yerxa. “We need to address the needs of the public and stakeholders.”

And that’s exactly what they’re doing. On Oct. 29, The Playhouse hosted a public consultation at the Fredericton Convention Centre for those who wanted to help shape the building’s future.

Almost 80 people filled the room, most of whom were new to the project. The question of the night was: “What are the needs of the community today?”

“My greatest fear is moving forward on the wrong project … So, we are taking our time, talking a lot and bringing a lot of minds together,” said Yerxa.

Webb Management Services, Inc., a firm specializing in cultural infrastructure projects, was present to discuss the work that has been done so far and to guide people on where The Playhouse might be going.

Some of the recommendations that were made included a larger seating capacity, boosting the current seating from 709 seats to over 850. Another was having a smaller space added, with about 200-to-300 seats. Other ideas included making classrooms and multi-purpose rooms and to fully equip the building for new media.

A final report, which will detail the future of The Playhouse, is not expected to be released until early next year, but Yerxa feels good about how things are going so far.

“We need to be smart and sustainable. We need to see what the larger goals are for the community and it seems like they want a community-oriented performing arts centre.”

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