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Belfry Theatre (Victoria, B.C.)
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- Springridge Cultural Centre Society
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Dates of existence
The Belfry Theatre was established on 30 December 1975, having been registered on that date as the Springridge Cultural Centre Society. Its original aims were to promote cultural events, operate a cultural centre, and sponsor workshops relating to the performing arts. During its first three seasons it hosted touring companies, and began to produce its own shows in 1976/77. By the end of the 1977/78 season, the Belfry had achieved its longer-term goal of becoming a full-fledged professional theatre company, and on 10 December 1981 the society's name was officially changed to the Belfry Theatre Society. However, the Belfry continued to host other touring companies and has also sponsored concerts, a fund-raising fashion show and a series of classic children's films. The company has received financial support from the Canada Council and the provincial government through the British Columbia Cultural Programme, the Lottery Fund and the Intermunicipal Fund.
The Society consists of a Board of Directors; there were five directors in 1975 but by 1986 the number had expanded to eleven. The company's permanent staff consists of the Artistic Director, General Manager, Production Manager, Publicity Manager and Accounts Manager. The Belfry's first production was "Puttin' on the Ritz," which ran from 29 January to 12 March 1977. Developed and directed by Don Shipley and Pat Armstrong, this production featured choreography by Judith Marcuse and a four-person cast (Bill Hosie, Danny Costain, Sheila McCarthy and Mary Swinton). Since then the company has produced many more productions, most of them highly successful and some controversial, such as "Hosanna" and "Let My People Come." It has attracted many well-known actors and directors, including R.H. Thompson, Stuart Margolin, Frances Hyland and Nicola Cavendish.
The Theatre is housed in the Emmanuel Baptist Church on Gladstone Avenue in Victoria, which was originally leased to the Belfry by the Victoria Cool Aid Society. In 1980-1981 the company embarked on Operation Facelift, a plan funded by the Canada Community Development Project to renovate the building, including raising the stage, insulating, re-plastering, repainting, raising the balcony side seats and adding new fire doors in the dressing room.
The Belfry Theatre continues to be a dynamic part of the Victoria arts community.
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Wikidata ID: Q4882390