Stephen Vance, Staff
The third time’s a charm for Meaford Hall, which has received $205,000 in funding from Canadian Heritage to complete renovations to their balcony project, after their third application for federal funding for the long-anticipated project.
The funding will cover half the estimated $410,000 cost of the balcony renovation. The Meaford Hall and Culture Foundation has said they will raise $145,000 toward the project, leaving the municipality to cover just $60,000 which was previously approved in the 2016 capital budget.
In his report to council last June, Meaford’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture Dan Buttineau told council that a renovation of the balcony at Meaford Hall could help draw higher profile performances to the hall. When completed, the new balcony will bump the hall’s seating capacity by roughly 90 seats to 350, which could help make the venue more attractive to larger, more popular acts.
“The only portion of the entire building that was left largely untouched was the balcony, where the ‘best’ 149 of the original wooden seating was relocated. As the balcony had not been used for many years, the sentiment to leave a piece of history intact seemed reasonable and quaint, albeit concern for safe egress, particularly in an emergency situation, was identified by staff. A decision by staff and management was made to sell no more than 60 of the 149 seats in the balcony to mitigate the municipality’s potential exposure to risk and provide for maximum comfort for patrons,” said Buttineau in his report last June. “The percentage of performances at Meaford Hall requiring additional balcony seating capacity has grown steadily from 16% in 2007 with 49 performance events to 30% in 2014 with more than 100 events, a trend that is anticipated to continue to grow over the next five plus years. With the growing usage of the Balcony, complaints from patrons have also increased and, unfortunately, seat sales have been lost by those not wishing to sit in the uncomfortable balcony seats. The additional seating capacity will allow Meaford Hall to offer a total of 350 seats in the Opera House and increase the viability of the venue to host larger shows and concerts.”
“This is great news for the town of Meaford to have this injection of federal money into the Meaford Hall,” said Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller. “This was already a topnotch venue to see great Canadian acts and the talents they will now be able to attract with the increased seating will only get better in the years to come.”