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City Arts Space a new, intimate venue

Sit up close and personal

The City of St. Albert has joined the movement toward smaller theatre spaces. Now in addition to the Arden Theatre, a more intimate and functional performance arts venue is available in Campbell Park. 

City Arts Space, located on Carleton Drive, is a portable theatre easily assembled and disassembled. It shares a space with St. Albert Children’s Theatre rehearsal halls, studio classrooms, costume and prop storage, and construction shop. 

“The Arden is stunning and incredible, but it’s also massive. A lot of performances require an intimate space. [City Arts Space is] a black box and suited to smaller shows and cabaret-style shows. There is no fixed seating, and it can be adapted in many ways. It’s perfect for an emerging performer,” said Andrea Gammon, cultural programming manager. 

She explained St. Albert had a gap in venue sizes with either the larger Arden Theatre or the Community Hall with nothing in between. Designed specifically for a seating capacity of 140, it opens possibilities for microplays and mini concerts to enjoy closer audience interaction. 

The premiere performer at this brand-new theatre will be Victoria-based guitarist Colum Graham. He performs as a soloist on Friday, Nov. 19. 

“He’s a world-class acoustic guitar player. His style is suited to a nice intimate venue.” 

More artists are under consideration for 2022, however Gammon explained contracts need to be resolved before artists' names are released. 

City Arts Space started undergoing renovations several years ago when St. Albert Children’s Theatre combined rehearsal space with costume and prop storage into one building. Before the amalgamation, the theatre company was scattered in two different buildings. 

The new building provided 6,000 square feet of rehearsal/performance space that included audience seating and a scene shop space. Two studio classrooms are a combined 1,500 square feet and a costume prop storage area measures another 1,500 square feet. 

“During COVID, it wasn’t used very much but it allowed us to do renovations and bring it up to code.” 

The city received two grants totalling $450,000 from the Government of Alberta and Heritage Canada. 

Most of the major renovations were for a mezzanine, costume storage, washroom updates, wheelchair accessibility, fire suppression, proper ventilation, door partitions, light and sound equipment, sound baffles, theatre drapery, and a piano. 

“The main thing about this venue is the intimacy, the friendliness, the openness. It allows the audience to be up close and interactive,” said Gammon. “We’re still getting up to full speed, but it’s a flexible speed, and we’re eager to see what the community feedback is.” 

City Arts Space is at 105, 125 Carleton Drive. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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