Take a seat to help the Anne Portnuff Theatre

The Anne Portnuff Theatre, and the Yorkton Regional High School itself, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. In those 50 years, countless performers and students have graced the stage. Countless people have sat in the seats to watch them, and now those seats are showing the results of 50 years of continuous use.

The need to replace the seats is purely practical, explains Tonia Vermette with the Yorkton Arts Council and the fundraising committee. The structure of the seats is beginning to fail and the fabric on top is wearing out.

“If you have a look around you’ll notice a lot of duct tape. Things have been re-upholstered but some of the structure is not that supportive anymore... They’ve been here since 1967, so we decided to partner with the Good Spirit School Division and the Yorkton Regional High School and City of Yorkton to raise money to upgrade the theatre.”

The budget for the new seating is $300,000, and they are looking for the support of the community to help raise that goal. Vermette says they’re also applying for several grants, and the GSSD has built a fund of $54,000 from an override collected on paid performance at the theatre.

They will accept any amount, but people and businesses donating over $350 can buy a seat. The plan is to have commemorative plaques on the purchased seats, pending GSSD approval.

The seats are the only flaw in what is otherwise an excellent theatre, Vermette says, one which has allowed the performing arts to flourish in the city. It has been praised by people who have performed here – Jack Semple, for example, called it one of his favorite venues in Saskatchewan.

“Other communities of our size can’t boast such a well-equipped, acoustically wonderful theatre with such a big stage, the ability to have a pit band for the high school musicals. We’ve had the entire Regina Symphony Orchestra on this stage a couple of times,” Vermette says.

The best case scenario would be to have money raised by the summer of 2017, in order to have the seats installed by the theatre’s 50th anniversary. Vermette adds that  for many of the grants, they have to spend the money right away, so a deadline of June 2018 is firm in order to apply for those grants.

The distinctive orange hue of the seats remains an open question, as it depends on the supplier selected offers orange fabric. Right now, since the fundraising campaign has just begun, they don’t know what the new seats are going to look like, though Vermette says if possible, it will remain the land of orange. She admits that for the many performing arts organizations which use the facility, they want a comfortable seat above all else.

Donations to the project can be made through either YRHS or the Yorkton Arts Council. To get more information contact Mike Haczkewicz, Principal of YRHS, at 306-786-5555 or at mike.haczkewicz@gssd.ca or Vermette at the Yorkton Arts Council at 306-783-8722 or yorktonartscouncil@sasktel.net

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