Theatre project takes another step towards completion

The final piece of exterior work has been completed at the SBS St James Theatre in Gore.

Recently a new roof was installed by Roof Craft Industries, which gave its labour to the project free of charge.

With the completion of the roof, Gore and Districts St James Theatre Trust chairman Craig McIntyre estimated the theatre refurbishment project would be complete within two months.

The trust was extremely happy to get to this stage, Mr McIntyre said.

"We’ve got further than what we thought we may have.

"It’s been great. We’ve had quite a bit of community understanding about it and community help."

The roof had leaked for years and caused issues in the smaller auditorium.

"If you look inside the little theatre you can see the water stains and the plaster coming off in places."

The trust wanted to reduce the number of seats in the little theatre from 80 to 50.

However, they had been unable to do so because of the roof.

"There would’ve been no point in putting new seats, new carpet and new furnishings in that space while the roof leaked."

There had always been quite a bit of pressure from the public to upgrade the little theatre.

"This actually completes the building as being waterproofed and structurally sound. The roof was really the final part of it all.

"To have it happen finally is just great."

Soundproofing and furnishing still needed to be completed.

"At this stage we are just taking a breather because we’ve ticked all those things off. The only thing that we haven’t ticked off completely yet is the little theatre."

The upgrade was still dependent on whether the trust had enough money to do it, Mr McIntyre said.

"What we do have is enough money to get it back in working order. That was always on the cards."

The installation of a new lift provided wheelchair access to both theatres.

The foyer of the theatre had also been renovated.

New carpet had been installed, as well as a gender-neutral bathroom and an accessible toilet.

"We’ve highlighted more of the art-deco style of the theatre with the paint work."

He said when he visited the theatre last week and walked through the newly-carpeted foyer he was struck by the change.

"Wow. That’s been a long time coming."

In 2009, the trust was informed that any more structural work would have to include the installation of a lift.

Since 2010 they had been raising funds for the project.

"I know that people thought we would do it sooner but the money just didn’t come our way."

Seismic strengthening work had been completed so the theatre could meet compliance requirements.

"If we didn’t do that we were one of those buildings that had a red sticker on it.

"That was vital."

They had to wait for approval from the Gore District Council before the lift could be used.

Members of Gore Musical Theatre and the Gore Host Lions Club had also volunteered their time to the project.

By Ben Andrews