Calgary

Calgary, Edmonton Jubilee Auditoriums to receive $9.3M for upgrades

The province is following through on promises made in last week's budget to invest in upgrades to both the Northern and Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditoriums.

The theatres were built by the province in the 1950s and updated for Alberta's centennial in 2005

Premier Rachel Notley, Culture Minister Ricardo Mirando and Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen join Jean Grand-Maître, artistic director of the Alberta Ballet, to announce funding to upgrade the Northern and Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditoriums. (Government of Alberta)

The province is following through on promises made in last week's budget to invest in upgrades to both the Northern and Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditoriums.

On Wednesday, Premier Rachel Notley announced Alberta will invest $9.3 million in renovations that will include behind-the-scenes improvements for workers and performers, upgrades to freight elevators and orchestra pits, installation of accessible washrooms, and modernizations to rehearsal halls, green rooms and dressing rooms.

"These improvements will help to make the facilities more attractive to larger productions, making Alberta an even more welcome stop in big tours and bringing more variety and bigger shows to our province. 

The theatres were built by the province in the mid-1950s as part of Alberta's 50th anniversary celebrations.

A concert at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium on Oct. 1, 1961. (CBC)

They were last updated in 2004 for the centennial in 2005, and improvements at that time were focused on improving the audience experience, with upgrades to acoustics, seating and climate control.

 Jean Grand-Maître, the artistic director of Alberta Ballet, said the auditoriums need to be made more accessible for performers. 

"When we produced Mozart's Requiem at the Jubilee Auditoriums, we had a full chorus of 100. But one of the singers was in a wheelchair, and we could not get the performer on stage. And so we had to find a way to get the performer to sing from the wings, and she was very happy in the end that she participated in our production. But these are untenable conditions for us in the arts," he said.

The auditoriums host more than 430 performances for 730,000 audience members each year, and employ nearly 400 part- and full-time employees.

The province said there is no set timeline for the renovations, but plans for the work have been drawn up.

With files from Elizabeth Snaddon