Our Current Facilities

Our current facilities including auditoriums, churches and bars have many deficiencies that create barriers to both cultural producers and audiences. These have been identified as the following:

  • Uncomfortable seating
  • Inadequate parking for large events
  • Small lobby or Front of House space
  • Small or inadequate stage square footage
  • Inadequate quantity of restrooms, as well as accessibility issues
  • A lack of ticketing services
  • Poor sightlines
  • Poor acoustics

There is no dedicated performing arts spaces in Lethbridge that are larger than 500 seats and only the University Theatre has a fly system. A fly system has ropes, pulleys, counterweights and related devices that enable a stage crew to quickly, quietly and safely hoist fly components such as curtains, lights, scenery, stage effects and sometimes, people.

Many groups are using churches, schools and bars, which lack customer amenities such as lobby space, ticketing or comfortable seating and theatrical functionality such as wing space.

An inventory of traditional performance venues indicates that Lethbridge has a total capacity of less than 1000 seats and 0.01 seats per capita. These numbers are significantly lower than all other comparable markets. Medicine Hat and Red Deer both have 0.019 seats per capita.

Yates Renewal & Enhancement

The Genevieve E. Yates Memorial Centre is an auditorium constructed in 1966 and has served as the home of Lethbridge Musical Theatre, New West Theatre, school performances and dance festivals for many years. The functional layout of the building is very challenging as some of the spaces do not meet user requirements. In 1990, the 180 seat Sterndale Bennett Theatre was added to the facility as a rehearsal space; however this area is also used for performances.

Functional upgrades are required to enhance the amenities provided to the spectators and user groups and to improve the overall quality of the musical and theatrical performances as well as allow the building to address accessibility and code issues.  The project will include:

The City has confirmed they will complete necessary renovations to the Yates Memorial Centre and Sterndale Bennet Theatre. Some renovations have already begun that do not impact already booked shows. Both the Yates and Sterndale will close completely for renovations in September 2017 and reopen in April 2018.

Phase 1 includes but is not limited to:

  • Add 2 new elevators to serve front of house (provide access to the second floor)(to be pre-purchased by City of Lethbridge)
  • Remove existing stair lift
  • Revise Sterndale and Yates public washrooms to meet current barrier-free standards
  • Revise basement washrooms to meet current barrier-free standards
  • Add 2 new vestibules at Yates auditorium entries to improve acoustic separation
  • Add acoustic treatment to walls of Yates auditorium
  • Revise Yates catwalk to improve acoustics and theatrical lighting angles
  • Repaint Yates auditorium floor and walls
  • Add acoustic treatment to Basement Workshop
  • Add sprinklers throughout the facility which will also require replacement of finished ceilings
  • Update mechanical systems with new air handling equipment in new mechanical room, third floor above shell space
  • Update electrical system
  • Update communications system
  • Upgrade theatre lighting and audio/video systems
  • Upgrade services to the building to accommodate future expansion
  • Add barrier-free washroom to Sterndale back of house and revise layout of dressing rooms
  • Replace Sterndale retractable seating with portable seating risers
  • Re-roof Sterndale portion of the building

In addition to this list the City will also be doing some projects right away such as:

  • Upgrading the water main to the facility to allow extra water capacity for the fire sprinkler system
  • Pouring a concrete floor in the basement under the atrium
  • Replacing the emergency generator
  • Re-roof the front portion of the Yates
  • Removal of some abandoned equipment from the Yates mechanical room
  • Replacing all the seating in the Yates

Source: City of Lethbridge Capital Budget, http://www.lethbridge.ca/NewsCentre/Pages/YatesRenos.aspx