Sophie L’Homme looks radiant as she cuts across the lawn in front of Tofino’s Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre.
It’s been a challenging year for the Tofino and Ucluelet choir director and prolific musician, but looking forward L’Homme has much to smile about. On March 24, the BC Arts Council revealed its list of 47 arts infrastructure grant recipients and the Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre Association (CSCTA) was awarded funding to the tune of $75,000.
The grant enables the CSCTA to dive into phase one of a major renovation project that will transform the aging, almost 40-year-old community theatre into a healthier and more accessible space for everyone.
“We jumped up and down when we were told we received the grant. It’s an honour to be on that list of recipients. It’s very amazing,” said L’Homme. She thanked senior theatre consultant Scott Windsor and Cindy Hutchison at the District of Tofino for helping make dreams of the new theatre take flight.
When the pandemic closed the theatre, L’Homme lost her job as theatre manager. Choir practices were also cancelled and the Tofino Jazz Festival was axed.
“COVID is really, really hard on the arts. We haven’t been able to perform and the artists haven’t been able to come, but somehow it brought us time to have perspective and that was the perfect time for me. I didn’t have choir, but I finally had time to work on the grant project. It gave us time to think about the future,” she said.
Phase one of the theatre project involves gutting the space entirely, laying down a new sprung floor and “putting it back to a black box” as L’Homme describes. Phase two will involve replacing the original risers with electrical retractable risers and collapsible chairs, painting the walls, upgrading to an LED lighting system, and adding windows to the north side of the space looking out towards the harbour.
“During the day, there is going to be natural light coming in. It’s going to be a clean, healthy space for rehearsals, workshops, exhibits, or classes. At night, in a snap, the room turns back into a theatre,” L’Homme said, adding that they will be installing new fire retardant curtains and that the new floor configuration allows for a standing audience.
To reach the full potential of the upgrade, the CSCTA will need to fundraise upwards of $150,000. Community members and theatre lovers can support the project by sponsoring a seat for $1,000. L’Homme says 72 chairs need a sponsor and donors will get their name on a permanent plaque at the entrance of the theatre. CSCTA is also looking for bigger corporate sponsorships and is looking at applying for bigger grants.
“The legacy will remain and it will have the same magic and ghosts,” notes L’Homme. “Once it’s done, it’s going to be a pride of the town.”
Anyone interested in supporting the artistic project is encouraged to email L’Homme at email@example.com.