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South Shore Players looking to convert former Bridgewater arena

My kingdom for a ... performance centre?

The South Shore Players are hoping to make Bridgewater their permanent home.

Representatives from the theatre group — which was founded in 1993 — recently presented a proposal to council concerning a performance centre.

Artistic director Colleen Hagen explained to council that the group is looking to convert the former Bridgewater arena.

According to the written proposal submitted by the group, repurposing the arena is a “practical and economical way of bringing theatre to the Town of Bridgewater.”

John Bird, the vice-president for the South Shore Players, said the space is big enough to accommodate the theatre group and other community functions.

“It would be absolutely wonderful,” he said of the space. “This could also serve as a concert hall for this area. It’s acoustically appropriate.”

Hagen and Bird explained that the group is looking at number of commitments from the town to transform the arena into a performance space.

Firstly, they asked the town to commit a $6,500 feasibility study to determine the viability of the building as a theatre and market space.

They also requested council to negotiate a memorandum of understanding for a period of three years.

“Our hope is to be able to get into the building late in 2019 to set up the preliminaries and to start the season in 2020,” said Hagen.

At this time, the South Shore Players do not have a permanent space.

When asked how a performance centre would help them, Hagen said it would improve the quality of the group’s pieces as well as grow the arts community in town.

“We’re in church halls, we’ve used community centres. Our home base is in the basement of a church. It’s a lot of extra work for our behind the scenes people,” she said.

In the short term, the group would use the upper auditorium to house performances, workshops, and board meetings.

And in the future, Hagen said she hopes around two-thirds of the space would be allocated to the performance centre.

The other space would be set aside for the Bridgewater Farmer’s Market.

Hagen and Bird both expressed their excitement at the proposal and said the centre would be of benefit to the town.

“Theatre really is a community,” said Hagen.

The proposal will be further discussed at a future council meeting.

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