‘A massive project’: Smiths Falls Station Theatre looking to upgrade lighting system

The Smiths Falls Station Theatre, located at 53 Victoria Ave., Smiths Falls, is in need of new LED lighting. The town has supported a grant application for up to half the cost of the project. – Laurie Weir photo

Smiths Falls’ Station Theatre is looking to shine their light on a brighter future.

A new LED lighting system is on the radar for the theatre group, which is looking to upgrade the antiquated system with the help of a Canada Cultural Spaces funding program grant in the amount of just over $38,000.

Stephanie Clark, the town’s director of community services, shared this in her report to council’s committee of the whole on April 8.

“Canada Cultural Spaces will fund up to 50 per cent of any project,” Clark said. “Station Theatre is looking to upgrade their LED, which will reduce the fire risk for the building, which is significant … it will also green the building and save on electricity costs and allow for a much less cumbersome experience in terms of swapping out lights.”

Clark said Station Theatre has been saving funds for the project, “but we agreed to support their application.”

They tried to apply for funding in the past on two occasions, but were unsuccessful, she noted.
Clark was looking for a resolution from council to support the process, which they did unanimously.

The Station Theatre lives in the old Canadian Pacific Railway station, which was constructed in 1887. It was converted to a theatre in 2010, after 11 years of planning and construction. The 140-seat facility is a focus for the performing arts in Smiths Falls, giving audiences a glimpse into films, concerts, and live theatre productions. It can also been booked for meetings and receptions.

Lynda Daniluk is the director of the community theatre group. She told Lanarkist she was thrilled with the news that the committee of the whole supported this application.

“We’ve been wanting to change to LED for all kinds of reasons,” she said. “They’re more energy efficient, they’re not as hot, not as dangerous, and it will give us some nice options.”

Daniluk said the old lighting gets so hot that the bulbs have burst on members of the audience. And to change colours, someone has to climb up to the fixtures and place a colour screen over the bulbs, “and that’s dangerous, too,” she said.

“It’s an extremely expensive project because the whole theatre needs to be rewired.”

Daniluk said they’ve been turned down by the Ontario Trillium Foundation twice, as well as through the town’s community grants program.

They are prepared to pay their share of the project, she added. “We want to make sure we can stay viable, and cover all the other costs we have to look after, but this particular project is high on our priority list.”

Some of the lighting parts are now obsolete, Daniluk said, and “we don’t know when a bulb is going to burst.”

They will need to overhaul the lighting system, she said. “We’ll need a lighting board too … it is a massive project.”

Daniluk said the most important thing is enhanced safety for volunteers and patrons, and to reduce the risk of fire.

“These old lights really suck hydro – they’re hot! Often, our actors are hot on stage from these lights, and LED won’t produce that heat.”

The LED lighting offers “lovely lighting” and different colours, which they don’t change much these days, she said.

If they don’t get the grant, Daniluk said they’d have to be careful how they manage the project year over year with their available funding.

“It wouldn’t be done quickly,” she said. “We’d have to do it in stages. We still want to do it, but we haven’t specifically done fundraising for this project. If we can get some help, we’re definitely going to move forward with some reserves that we have … it’s an investment in the future and the benefits speak for themselves. It’s getting the infrastructure done because it’s not acceptable for LED lighting.

Station Theatre is located at 53 Victoria Ave.

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