Tuesday October 21, 2014

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Tommy Douglas Performing Arts Centre busy during Homecoming

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The Tommy Douglas Centre is located on Tenth Avenue S., next to the old water tower.

The Tommy Douglas Performing Arts Centre will be open for visitors this weekend during Weyburn's Centennial Homecoming days. The world premiere theatrical performance of 'Circle the Crops', which will take place on stage August 2 and 4, should send an additional few hundred people through the doors of the historical building.

As the Crocus 80 Theatre cast and crew gear up for their performances, painting sets and rehearsing those final times, the centre has indeed been abuzz with activity- which, according to board secretary Wendy Sidloski, is par for the course these days.

"There's a lot happening here!" said Sidloski, who is also booking coordinator for the centre. "We have had a steady stream of diverse bookings."

Events that have been held at the centre in recent months included performances by the Regina Symphony Orchestra and a string quartet from Ohio, as well as a retirement party, a grad banquet, bargaining sessions, meetings, recitals and more.

"We were thrilled to have Colleen Weimer bring a couple of her school plays here," said Sidloski, "and of course we are so happy to have the music festival."

The Music Festival has been held at the Douglas Centre for a number of years.

The building has two renters in residence, including Flatland Catering and Crocus 80 Theatre. Sidloski noted that the Crocus 80 group has been helping out with cleaning and organizing the building, and recently they completely overhauled the costume room.

"We've all been working on clearing the clutter," she said, adding that the cleaning has become much easier as a result.

"The centre no longer has a paid employee," said Sidloski. "We are a non-profit organization, completely run by volunteers. We now have 10 dedicated board members and each person brings their own special talents and abilities to the table. It's a great group."

Sidloski emphasized that the current board, which is comprised of sixty per cent newcomers, has been coming together to refresh the energy of the building, to bring new life to it and to reposition the centre for serving Weyburn's needs well into the future.

"We do it because we love the building and the legacy and we are dedicated to taking care of this important piece of Weyburn's history," she said.

She noted that there are various ways that community members can support the Douglas Centre.

"People can help by renting the building, coming to the events happening here and also by considering becoming a sponsor." She added that the sense of pride the board takes in the building can be extended to members at large and to the community in general.

"This is Weyburn's building," Sidloski said. "Please use it and enjoy its uniqueness."

She said that the board is truly grateful to the City of Weyburn for recently sending out some employees to help repair a fallen louver, and while they were there they also trimmed some trees and replaced some shingles.

The centre's roof is in need of replacing in the next year or two. Putting a new roof on a historical building is no small cost, so the board is looking to the community for fundraising strategies.

"Any ideas for events or fundraising for our roof are always welcome," said Sidloski.

One solid plan the board is working on will combine ordinary fundraising with the richly-textured impressions of the former premiere of Saskatchewan himself.

On October 20, the Douglas Centre board will lead the way in celebrating 'Tommy Douglas Day'.

"We are planning to have an event that honours Tommy Douglas," Sidloski said, noting that the event will include a time of reminiscing about the greatest Canadian.

"We want people to just come and share little stories that they know about him, to celebrate his life." The ideas for the event are coming together and the board is looking forward to being able to make an announcement in the near future.

"We are hoping it can become an annual event," said Sidloski.

The centre has recently published new brochures, which will be distributed throughout the Centennial Homecoming weekend. The board is also currently updating the centre's web site.


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