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Empress plans to raise half a million dollars

Rotary donation to Empress Theatre

Empress Theatre Society development fund chairman Ed Granger and president Debbie Sutley accept a $10,000 donation from Fort Macleod Rotary Club, presented by Henry Van Hierden.

The Jewel of Main Street needs some polishing.
The Empress Theatre Society has embarked on an ambitious drive to raise half a million dollars to restore the 100-year-old theatre.
With the anniversary of the first public performance at the Empress Theatre approaching on June 29, the society is nearly half way to its goal.
“The Empress Theatre built in 1912 is the oldest continually operating theatre in Alberta,” Empress Theatre Society development fund chairman Ed Granger said. “It stands not only as a material testament to an important time in history, but as a unique legacy to a period of architecture and Alberta’s culture diversity.”
The theatre in 1982 was designated a provincial historic resource and in 1989 extensive renovations were completed.
“The board of directors has accepted the responsibility to ensure this historic theatre continues to operate for many more decades,” Granger said. “Well, it does come with a challenge.”
The theatre’s position in historic terms, as well as its present-day status as a cultural hub in southern Alberta, makes restoration important.
The Empress Theatre is architecturally sound but the roof needs repairs. The heating and air conditioning systems also need to be improved.
Technological changes also mean the Empress soon has to switch to new digital equipment for movie projection and an enhanced sound system.
The theatre’s 327 seats also need to be refurbished. A seat will be named for 10 years for each $500 donor.
Granger said May 1 at a news conference in the Green Room that $220,000 has been raised so far.
That includes contributions from government, including Heritage Canada, the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation, Town of Fort Macleod and MD of Willow Creek.
Donations have also been made by community groups such as the Lethbridge Community Foundation, Order of the Eastern Star, Legion Ladies Auxiliary, Fort Macleod High School Reunion Committee and Fort Macleod Rotary Club.
Companies such as Richardson Oilseed Ltd., Ferrari Westwood Babits Architects and Bridge City Chrysler have contributed, and so have individuals such as Hugh and Maureen Hamilton.
“That is the kind of support that’s needed to keep this little theatre moving,” Granger said.
The Empress Theatre Society has set the following levels for donations: Star, $250,000 and up; Producer, $100,000 and up; Director, $25,000 to $99,000; Performer, $5,000 to $25,999; Understudy, $1,000 to $4,999; and Stage Hand, $50 to $999.
There is also an opportunity for 10-year naming rights based on the following donations: stage, $250,000; Green Room, $100,000; balcony, $100,000; tulip, $50,000; art gallery, $50,000; lobby, $50,000; box office, $25,000; concession, $25,000; dressing room A, B or C, $10,000.
For details about these and other sponsorship opportunities visit or call 403-553-4404.

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