Posted with permission from The Sioux Lookout Bulletin
Tim Brody - Associate Editor
The Rotary Club of Sioux Lookout has officially kicked off and is championing a fundraising campaign to raise the local share for a cafetorium multi-use space in the new high school being built in Sioux Lookout. Rotary Club of Sioux Lookout president Clifford Mushquash made the announcement at the April 20 municipal council meeting at which council directed staff to apply for funding from the provincial and federal governments for the project.
The Rotary Club will work with the Sioux-Hudson Entertainment Series and the Northern Lights Community Theatre to raise the approximate $30,000 community share.
Mushquash shared, “The Rotary Club of Sioux Lookout is proud to support efforts to equip a cafetorium in the new high school with a commitment of $25,000. Our club has a long history of supporting community-based projects and strives to make contributions that have a wide reach, and a lasting impact.
“We believe this historical contribution will truly benefit the entire community for years to come. By coincidence, the anticipated project completion date will coincide with a significant milestone for our club, as we will celebrate our 75th anniversary in September 2017.
“We love the idea of a cafetorium,” Mushquash said. “We recognize the benefit of performing arts in our community as a way of cultural presence and expression and as a tool to attract and retain people to Sioux Lookout. We know how important having a proper performance space is, but I also think of the potential the space will bring for activities and events we maybe haven’t thought of yet.”
“The Rotary Club of Sioux Lookout commends the municipality on their leadership in this project, and looks forward to working closely with all project partners.”
The space can be used as both a cafeteria and an auditorium. Queen Elizabeth District High School principal Steve Poling described the half million dollar cafetorium space which will seat 240 to 280 people.
“If you walk in on a regular day, you’re going to see round tables, chairs all around throughout the open space. There’s a storage area for those tables and chairs under the stage and in a storage room just to the left as you walk in. On your left, on the wall in behind, is going to be almost like a set of bleachers, but actually it will be like stadium seating, nice, good quality seating, quite a bit better than what we currently have. During the day it would be able to be used, or in a conference, you could do a conference with round tables.
“At the end of the cafetorium on one side is a wall of windows and a set of doors that go out to a patio… and then a stage. The stage will have a sliding wall that comes out and can block it off so the stage itself can also be a drama classroom. “Instead of having to mount lights and remove them because they might get hit with balls, these will be permanently mounted. Adjacent to the cafetorium is also the foods room. In the foods room they will be able to prepare food and then there is going to be an open, almost like at the food bar at the arena, a slide open doorway and counter if they want to serve food.
“In behind the stage, the stage itself which will be a (three foot) raised stage, in behind the stage there’s an open door that goes into the music area so it can be a green room for the actors and presenters… and on the other side an open door that goes into the art room so that they can create sets and bring them out onto the stage. As well there is going to be a door that goes out to the parking lot that will allow direct entry. Somebody can back up to the door and bring things right onto the stage.”
Poling went on to state, “We really see this new school as being a hub of the community and a campus concept. Having the community be part of the school and participate and use the facilities is a very important part of what we believe in.” Poling said a lot of thought has gone into planning the space.
“This is, I believe, the third cafetorium this architect has designed for community use… and he has a theatre consultant also.”
Mushquash continued, “In the past, our club has made significant contributions to long-term projects where several years of our fundraising has been directed to these types of projects, such as Cedar Bay Day Camp, and the Meno Ya Win Health Centre. We’ve continued to commit to smaller projects and programming on an annual basis, but it’s been a few years since our club has made a multi-year commitment to a project of this scale. We believe this historical contribution will truly benefit the entire community for years to come.”
Mushquash added, “The club will use some funds it currently has allotted for projects as well as dollars it will raise between now and the project completion. When community members support our club through fundraising such as the end of winter barrel sinking, blueberry pancake breakfast, Lobsterfest, or peanut drive, to name just a few of our events, they will know that their support will help our club fulfill this pledge. It’s because of the support the Rotary Club of Sioux Lookout gets from the community that we’re able to make a pledge of this amount. We sincerely thank our community for their ongoing support… The Rotary Club of Sioux Lookout also commends the municipality for its leadership in this project, and looks forward to working closely with all project partners.”
Alyson Martin, chairperson of the Sioux-Hudson Entertainment Series, shared, “Committee members from the Sioux-Hudson Entertainment Series are really excited to be part of the initiative with the board of education and other partners in creating a great performance space for touring and local artists, professional performers, and emerging artists alike! This is a wonderful opportunity for our community. We are also aware of the fundraising efforts that accompany an endeavour such as this and are prepared to do what we can to make it happen.”
The Entertainment Series has pledged $5000 to support the project.
Mary MacKenzie, chair of the Northern Lights Community Theatre board of directors, commented, “Northern Lights Community Theatre is very excited about the creation of a cafetorium in the new high school. We are committed to undertake fundraising to contribute to the costs of purchasing equipment and retractable seating for the new facility. We are pleased to be able to partner with the school, the school board, and community organizations to continue to provide, and enhance, live theatre in Sioux Lookout.”
Mayor Doug Lawrance explained, “The municipality will steward the funds for the project. We will accept the donations from the local fundraising efforts, as well as the grants, which we are hopeful will be made available through provincial and federal government agencies.”
He added, “It isn’t often that one hears resounding applause in council chambers, but that was exactly the reaction from council and members of the public in attendance at the April 20 council meeting when Mr. Mushquash announced the Sioux Lookout Rotary Club’s willingness to lead the fundraising campaign, committing $25,000 to the project. This is truly a good-news story, one that will enhance both the school experience for students, and offer an enviable venue for performing arts in our community.”
Poling said the space will provide a fantastic venue for the school’s growing drama program and a new program coming to the school next year, an acting and film academy program.
Twenty-five students are already enrolled for the new program.
Poling thanked the Rotary Club for their leadership.
He added, “I know everybody is concerned about finance and money and stuff right now and I respect that. We’re working very carefully to make sure that every dollar is being used really respectfully and really carefully to make sure that great things happen and the right things happen for the kids.”
Poling said he is confident the project will come in on budget.
“It’s an unbelievably good opportunity. The stars are aligned here and we have an amazing opportunity to do something,” Poling concluded.