Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage - Renovation


Famous Players put the Stanley up for sale in the spring of 1991, with the condition that it not be used as a movie theatre. In the months leading up to the Stanley's closure, Famous Players had a conditional sale agreement for the theatre with Vancouver developer Sandy Cox, who was planning to keep the Stanley's facade and convert the interior into retail space. The Vancouver City Council received a proposal to change the building to retail use, which it approved, but the planned development was abandoned, and the building remained vacant for several years. During the early 1990s, a "Save Our Stanley" campaign was begun to preserve the building and prevent commercial redevelopment of the space. In 1994 the Stanley Theatre Society was formed to try to buy the Stanley for the Arts Club Theatre Company, and in 1997 it purchased the theatre from Famous Players for $3,173,000. Renovation costs, including sound and lighting equipment, came to $5.8 million, which brought the costs of purchase and renovation to about $9 million, $1.5 million more than the $7.5 million originally budgeted. Money came from fundraising campaigns by the Arts Club and Vancouver TheatreSports, at least $3.9 million from the provincial and federal government, a $100,000 grant from the City of Vancouver, the purchase of a density transfer to the One Wall Centre by Peter Wall for $1.2 million, as well as corporate sponsorship by du Maurier, who contributed $1.2 million—although du Maurier would later withdraw as a sponsor because of federal restrictions on tobacco advertising.

Architects including Thom Weeks and Jennifer Stanley led renovations of the Stanley into a live theatre. Weeks was initially disappointed with the state of the pre-renovated theatre, which looked "pretty tired" with its aged orange walls and sticky, soft drink-stained carpets. However, by the time the renovations were completed, and the actors and musicians were getting ready to first perform in it, there was a general feeling of excitement about the theatre. Renovations included expansion of the lobby, reconfiguration of the balcony, an expansion of the stage to twice its original size, a new twenty-five metre fly tower from which to raise and lower scenery, new dressing rooms, a trap room, an electrical room and a green room backstage, a reduction of the number of seats from 1,216 to 650, a crush bar in the old projection booth, a section cut out of the theatre's dome to use for spotlights, and a full restoration of the theatre's gold-leafed plaster decorations. As a result of these renovations, in 1999 the theatre was awarded a City of Vancouver Heritage Award, as well as an IES International Illumination Design Award.

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