Shakespeare festival raising money for permanent riverside site
$3M campaign launched to redevelop riverbank from Children’s Museum to University Bridge
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan is currently the only group that uses its picturesque location on the riverbank, but now the group is hoping to change that.
The theatre company is working with the City of Saskatoon and the Meewasin Valley Authority on a redesign of the riverbank from the Children's Discovery Museum (in the former Mendel Art Gallery building) to the University Bridge. The group has launched a $3-million campaign to fund the renovations.
It's such a beautiful place to be able to celebrate Saskatoon as a four-season, winter-embracing kind of place.- Will Brooks, artistic producer with Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan
Not only would the redesign make it easier for people to walk, cycle and park, the group says, plans for permanent structures will also allow them to keep the space open year round and rent it out to different groups.
"One of the things all three partners really wanted to see was an increase in accessibility, to stop locking the chain link fence at the end of the year and leaving it empty all year round," artistic producer Will Brooks told Saskatoon Morning.
The space could host concerts, cultural ceremonies, winter festivals and the Children's Festival. Brooks said that although the non-profit group would like to "focus on things that have the greatest good for our city and for our people," the space could also potentially be used for weddings, family celebrations and corporate events.
The white tent would stay but it will be assembled on top of a permanent concrete amphitheatre, which could be used without the tent as well.
Brooks said it currently takes three to four weeks to set up the festival site, but with the permanent structure in place it would only take three to four days. Cutting down the setup time would help the group save on staffing costs and allow for a longer season.
Brooks said the redesign has been decades in the making.
"It's such a beautiful place to be able to celebrate Saskatoon as a four-season, winter-embracing kind of place. Because right there on the riverbank, it kind of doesn't get any better than that."
Construction is slated to start in fall 2019, with the grand opening of the new space in 2020.
With files from Saskatoon Morning