Theatre company campaigns to rebuild historic Collingwood school
BY PAUL REID
It looks as though the 115-year-old Carleton School House, which has been vacant and deteriorating since being gutted by fire in April 2008, will indeed be saved from the wrecking ball. The Green Thumb Theatre has come to a deal with the Vancouver school board to lease the building from the school board for 20 years as their new headquarters.
Green Thumb Theatre will need to raise approximately 1.2 million dollars to transform the currently burnt-out building into a restored version of its original self with two rehearsal halls, washrooms and a green room. The theatre company also plans to refurbish an adjacent building, “the barn”―built in 1908, to house its offices.
The theatre company creates and performs theatre works aimed at children, teens and young adults, to allow students to learn more about educational theatre programs. Green Thumb has had shows on Broadway and the Sydney Opera House, its works translated into 14 languages and plays performed by over 200 theatre companies throughout the world.
The Green Thumb solution came after much work by heritage advocates.
The capital campaign was launched at the Carleton site on September 13. Lead by Patrick McDonald, artistic director, speakers that day included Pat Munton, principal of Sir Guy Carleton Elementary School; Patti Bacchus, board chair of the Vancouver school board; Kerry Jang, City of Vancouver councillor; Donald Luxton, Heritage Vancouver; and Adrian Dix, leader of the BC New Democratic Party and our local MLA.
All of the speakers were thrilled about the win-win partnership. “We’ll have a restored building, the community will have its heart back and we’ll have this fantastic theatre program,” said Patti Bacchus.
“We’re delighted because Green Thumb Theatre will be restoring our much-cherished heritage schoolhouse to its original splendour and beyond,” said Pat Munton, the school’s principal. “It’s just amazing, it brings tears to my eyes.”
Adrian Dix declared it a “wonderful day” and kicked off the campaign by donating $1,000.
Initially, Green Thumb hopes to receive $150,000 as part of a cultural infrastructure grant from the city. This would allow for the replacement of the roof, whose current tarps are covering a big hole. Green Thumb will also apply for $450,000 from the Department of Canadian Heritage.
This would leave $400,000 still to raise, an amount that Green Thumb is positive they can. If all goes to plan, the theatre company would be moving into the renovated school building by fall 2012.
Learn more about Green Thumb Theatre at greenthumb.bc.ca. You can also find Green Thumb on Facebook.
Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News