The Grand Theatre

Indian Head, SK

2018 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award (Transformative Projects)

The Grand Theatre is a community-owned, volunteer-run enterprise and multi-entertainment facility and a gathering place for people of all ages in the community of Indian Head. At the time it was built in 1904, it was the only opera house between Winnipeg and Vancouver. The historic building was later turned into a cinema in the 1930s, and was eventually put up for sale in 2012. The small town of Indian Head called on residents to get involved or risk losing their beloved historic cinema, and soon after community members formed a group of volunteers to save the theatre.

Known today as the Indian Head Theatre & Community Arts Inc (IHTCA), IHTCA ran a fundraising campaign that obtained pledges totaling over $100,000 and negotiated a purchase price with the owners. In February 2014, IHTCA became the owner and operators of what the community renamed the “Grand Theatre.”

However, after snow from the winter season melted later that year, there were obvious issues with the building’s roof, causing water to leak inside and risk damaging expensive new movie equipment. The IHTCA strong links with the community proved to be invaluable: the local company Roof Management Inspection Services (RMIS) announced the Grand Theatre was chosen as their “charity of choice” in their “Giving Back” initiative.

From 2015 to 2017, RMIS provided all engineering assistance on roof design and also repaired several portions of the roof. RMIS designed new roof trusses so as to maintain the historic exterior profile and to retain the original tin-tile ceiling structure. IHTCA made a series of grant applications to the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation (SHF) using the RMIS engineering reports, drawings and cost estimates and received almost $100,000 in matching grants. The 6,000 sq. ft. roof was completely replaced or repaired to meet modern codes while respecting heritage standards. Assistance by RMIS and SHF, along with countless hours by volunteers, were key factors in the success of the roof project. The historic building is now saved and incurred no additional debt.

With the roof now secure, the Grand Theatre has become an active and valued community space, housing a local amateur adult drama group as well as the elementary and high school drama clubs, and has become a regional tourist attraction and economic driver. And the engagement with the community continues, as a local architect is providing pro-bono services to develop a conceptual plan for interior renovations based on a 3D digital mapping that was completed last year, and that will be used for presentations to the community and funding agencies.

The project’s greatest success has been in galvanizing the community’s deep attachment for the Grand Theatre – the site of many first dates and first kisses – and translating that into action to save and revitalize the building.

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