Langley City is considering a second attempt at building a performing arts centre, this time a slightly smaller facility that might be run and funded by a non-profit group.
A report to council by Francis Cheung, the chief administrative officer, called for creation of a task group to develop a business plan and fundraising campaign for a 50,787 Sq. ft. facility with a 500-seat theatre, estimated to cost $36 to $44 million.
The initiative was approved Monday night.
That is smaller than the 600- to 650-seat theatre proposed in 2014, when a $50,000 study was carried out for the City, the Township, the school district, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Trinity Western University, who each contributed $10,000 to fund the study.
READ MORE: Langley City mulls theatre for downtown
Little was done after the report was filed, however, so the City carried out a revised feasibility study that called for a scaled-down version of the original proposal.
“We’re just exploring ideas,” said Mayor Val van den Broek, who said revisiting the arts centre makes sense with the pending arrival of rapid transit.
Cheung told Black Press the Langley centre theatre, which would have 350 seats on the main level and 150 in a balcony, would be roughly similar in size and concept to the 364-seat theatre at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster.
Location and funding details have not been set yet.
Cheung said the theatre could follow the model of the Langley Community Music School and the Langley Senior Resources Society, where the City owns the land and a separate not-for-profit board is responsible for operating and even funding construction of the facility.
“We really want this to be a grass-roots initiative.” said Cheung.
Another option could see the theatre built as part of a commercial and residential project in partnership with developers.
A long-time advocate for a Langley performing arts centre gave the news a positive, but guarded reception.
“Hallelujah,” said Peter Luongo, the founder of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble, who has been urging the Langleys to build a proper performing arts centre for more than a decade.
“Good on the City for taking the initiative.”
However, Luongo was concerned that a 500-seat theatre wouldn’t be big enough.
“We’re talking about a size that isn’t going to meet the needs of community groups already in Langley,” Luongo said.
For example, he said, it would be too small to accommodate graduation ceremonies from many Langley secondary schools.
There are communities that get good use from similar-sized theatres, Luongo said, but that is because they also have larger auditoriums, unlike Langley.
He also expressed concern about finances, saying he hopes the project doesn’t have to depend on community fundraising to get built.
“I am hopeful there is a way that the city will say, ‘we can fund this’,” Luongo said.
The report to council said the goal is “an iconic performing arts and cultural centre, supported by the anticipated arrival of SkyTrain to downtown Langley City” that would boost the local economy by drawing visitors to restaurants, hotels and shops in the downtown.
“Imagine a thriving downtown core that provides meeting places for our residents, young and old. Daytime and evening activities, shops, restaurants and events drawing locals and visitors into the city centre.”
Detailed specifications from task group terms of reference:
• Performance space: a proscenium theatre with a 500-seat capacity (approximately 350 on the main level and 150 in a balcony).
• 2,700 sq. ft. of atrium space.
• 2,700 sq. ft. of multi-purpose rooms/studios.
• 3,800 sq. ft. of exhibit space.
• 1,000 sq. ft. of creation lab.
• Back of house spaces: green room, two dressing rooms, wardrobe maintenance and laundry facilities, control rooms and storage spaces for equipment.
• Public Area: public lobby space that can also be used as a gathering space for events, receptions and educational programming. Space for bars and a catering kitchen for events, and a cafe and gift shop.
• Two large multi-purpose rooms which can be rented out in conjunction with theatre events or separately, used for rehearsal space. Includes a “large” boardroom.
• Visual arts space: “The building public space will provide a good avenue for exhibition of the work of local artists.” the report said.