Three local theatre companies are teaming up to take over the former Dancers’ Studio West space on 10th Avenue S.W. Ghost River Theatre Green Fools and Calgary Young People’s Theatre have entered into a joint venture agreement to share the 75-seat venue which will also be available to other companies as rental space.
"We just couldn’t stand that Calgary might be losing another performance space" says Dean Bareham co-founder and co-artistic director of Green Fools who have been homeless since the June flood. "We’re basically just trying to create an affordable space…. We’re really filling a need in the community."
According to Bareham the three companies were among the local organizations that had been interested in sharing the space with the dance company prior to its decision to move out.
"So we decided to take it on" he says adding that they had a short amount of time to reach an agreement with each other and the landlord ahead of a January 31 deadline (thankfully between them they also had two lawyers and a real estate agent as board members). "It’s kind of like strength in numbers — it’s a beautiful thing."
The three mid-sized companies have all been running for more than 20 years. Bareham says they complement each other well — Ghost River creates original contemporary work for an adult audience Calgary Young People’s Theatre works primarily with children and Green Fools does some of both. They will remain distinct from each other but will form a joint society to run the building and will share all costs.
"We’re all in for five years — hopefully longer" says Bareham adding that its modelled after a similar shared space in Vancouver. "I think the model is something that Calgary really needs right now just because we have so little available space."
They are currently in the process of giving the venue a facelife — fresh paint new carpet etc. — and have launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for expenses like stage curtains and equipment. Bareham says they expect to open in mid to late March.
For the Green Fools which lost their venue and all their equipment in the June flood the new venture marks a new beginning. "We’ve been homeless for about six months" says Bareham adding that they did not receive any insurance money or any aid from the Alberta Arts Rebuild Fund.
The companies have already scheduled their programming for the coming year which left about 20 weeks open for other organizations to rent the space. In addition to the Go Fund Me campaign Bareham says they are looking for donations or equipment from the theatre community as well as a naming sponsor for the venue.