Stage Door News
London: The Grand Theatre unveils its $9.5 million renovation
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
The Grand Theatre celebrated the successful completion of RENO2020 - an extensive, 15-month, $9.5 million renovation project designed to “make room” for an open, inclusive, and dynamic audience and artist experience.
In celebration of this historic renovation, an official unveiling took place on November 16 at an intimate Grand Reopening event, which welcomed all those who brought RENO2020 to fruition.
“When first embarking on our Grand renovation, we set out to create a first-rate theatre that would capture the best in modern design and cutting-edge production equipment, while honouring the unique history of the building and our patrons,” explains Deb Harvey, Grand Theatre Executive Director. “From the onset of this project, we knew that we wanted to achieve a stronger, 360 degree audience experience. From the moment our patrons enter the building to their fleeting final moments, we want them to feel welcomed, inspired, and exhilarated. Through our partnerships with Cornerstone Architecture and Bronnenco Construction Ltd., we have delivered on this vision. From this day forward, it is our hope that all Londoners feel proud to visit us and call the Grand Theatre, their Grand Theatre.”
Originally scheduled as a five-month project set to begin in May 2020, RENO2020 was halted due to the pandemic and re-started in August 2020. Harvey notes: “Our funding was secured and we knew that it was unlikely we’d be able to welcome audiences back for the better part of 2020 and 2021, so we used the period of shutdown to make theatre magic in a different way.”
The visible enhancements achieved through RENO2020 include:
• light-filled, open, and contemporary lobby spaces with enhanced flow and accessibility to all areas;
• reimagining of the Auburn Stage into a flexible workshop-friendly space;
• expanded bar spaces;
• a re-designed and relocated box office;
• significant expansion of the wardrobe department;
• refurbishment of rehearsal halls, dressing rooms, and artist lounge;
• and the inclusion of multiple, new, all-gender washrooms.
In addition to the many stunning, visible components of RENO2020, there are also a number of ‘invisible’ highlights designed to augment audience experience, including:
• upgrading of four of the theatre’s seven roofs;
• replacement of the theatre’s fly system;
• replacement and upgrading of IT and A/V infrastructure;
• addition of new stage automation and digital video equipment;
• and top-of-the-line upgrades to the sound and lighting systems.
“At the Grand, we have always taken great pride in the magnificent work being done on our stages,” says Dennis Garnhum, Grand Theatre Artistic Director. “This much-needed upgrade to our facilities and equipment will now match our outstanding productions and the work we do at the Grand. Further, the upgrades we have made to our stages and back-of-house spaces will not only attract leading talent from across the world to London, but will also put us in line with some of the best stages in North America.”
London-based firm, Cornerstone Architecture led the design process of RENO2020. “We have enjoyed every moment of our collaboration with the Grand on this project and are so proud of what has been achieved,” noted Alison Hannay, Principal. “We share our gratitude for the work of the craftspeople and contractors and applaud the tireless efforts of our team and those we’ve had the pleasure of working with – including Ron Koudys, Chair of the Board of the Grand Theatre Foundation, Deb Harvey, Dennis Garnhum and Paul Fujimoto-Pihl, who was the Grand’s Project Manager.”
RENO2020 was supported jointly through the following public grants at all levels of government, as well as through private donations and corporate partnerships:
• The Department of Canadian Heritage via the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund
• The City of London
• Ontario Trillium Foundation
• Elizabeth and Allan Drewlo
• Jamie Crich and Karen Crich - Auburn Developments Ltd.
• BMO Financial Group
• The Children of Joan and Don Smith and their Families
• Karen and Eric Auzins
• Good Foundation Inc.
• Walter J. Blackburn Foundation
• Bluestone Properties
• Summit Properties
• York Properties
• Estate of Richard M. Ivey
“A project of this size and magnitude would not have been possible without the historic support and generosity of these dedicated donors and loyal friends of the Theatre,” says Harvey. “As we complete our renovation and emerge from the pandemic, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all those who placed their trust in us, in the power of the arts, and our renovation dreams. We are ready and so excited to welcome audiences to this space, to their Grand Theatre.”
In celebration of the unveiling, the Grand hosted an intimate event on November 16 at the theatre. The event welcomed all those that made the renovation possible, including funders, donors, craftspeople, staff, and Boards of Directors. Speaking at the event were the Grand’s Executive Director, Deb Harvey and Artistic Director, Dennis Garnhum; Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament London North Centre; Terence Kernaghan, Member of Provincial Parliament for London North Centre; and Alison Hannay, who spoke on behalf of Cornerstone Architecture. Mayor Ed Holder was unable to attend due to scheduled council meetings.
For more information on RENO2020, including live updates, please visit: www.grandtheatre.com
Photo: The auditorium of The Grand Theatre, London. © 2021 Avan Patel.