SUMMERSIDE – The Harbourfront Theatre and the Summerside tourism market received a financial boost from the federal and provincial governments with funding to establish a permanent Visitor Information Centre (VIC) in the theatre.
The funding will also include major renovations to the theatre.
The federal government, through ACOA, will invest $157,782 from the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund. The province will invest $90,000 through the Department of Tourism and Culture, and $66,080 through the Island Community Fund. The Regional Cultural Event Centre Inc. will contribute $34,818.
The Visitor Information Centre (VIC) has been located in a temporary space in the lobby of the Harbourfront Theatre for the past two years.
“The funding being announced today marks a milestone for the theatre as it allows us to partner with Tourism Summerside to provide two core services to our community,” said Claude Degagne, president of the Harbourfront Theatre board of directors. “It touches on both the cultural and tourism needs of Summerside and in this area of the province.”
Degagne said the allocations are two-fold.
“The funding that’s being announced will allow us to renovate our lobby as well as repair our roof and sections of our front entrance,” he said. “Once renovated, the front section of the lobby will be the home of the new and expanded tourism information centre that will be centrally located and accessible.”
Degagne said the plan to house the VIC in the theatre will provide additional income to the facility.
“The rental income generated will create a source of revenue which has not been available to us in the past,” he said. “This will help the theatre to meet its financial obligations.
“The two organizations will now be able to share their clients. Tourists will be made more aware of the productions being offered by the theatre and conversely, theatregoers will have a chance to browse through tourism information.”
Degagne said the administrative offices will be moved to the back of the building leaving a large space for multi-purposes such as smaller productions or board meetings.
Kevin Mouflier, vice president of Tourism Summerside sees the project as a win-win for both the theatre and Tourism Summerside.
“We’re extremely excited about this infrastructure upgrade and look forward to increased visitation in our area in the upcoming years ahead,” he said. “Having a new, revitalized, centralized, year-round visitor information centre location to welcome our guests to Summerside is of key importance and priority to insure a welcoming and relaxed destination in Prince Edward Island.”
ACOA Minister Gail Shea said the funding will allow the theatre to continue to put on high quality productions.
“This facility presents some of the finest entertainment services on P.E.I. and like all of our community-based facilities, this venue is also a social meeting place,” Shea said. “The theatre hosts community performances, children’s shows, dance recitals and local high school plays. Be it social, cultural or educational, the Harbourfront Theatre brings our society together in a positive way. I would expect that you will see big things happening in 2014 as part of our Prince Edward Island celebrations here at the Harbourfront Theatre.
“In addition to enhancing the quality of life in our community, it also generates some economic activity and generates jobs on a year-round basis. It helps attract and retain visitors to this part of the Island.”
Kieran Keller, general manager of Harbourfront Theatre said the financial support bodes well for the theatre’s future.
“We are so pleased to have support from the federal and provincial governments which has allowed us to move forward with our internal and external facility improvement plans,” he said
“As a driving force within the community to encourage and develop an appreciation for the performing arts, it is important that our facility is current, appealing and safe for our guests.”