Arts centre: Everybody's working for the weekend

November 13, 2015
Chandeliers were unpacked on the floor, wet paint signs were dotting the walls and banging and clanking could be heard in every corner.

The real, unbilled stars at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre this weekend may be the workers trying to get the facility done in time for the grand opening.

They were buzzing about in hard hats during a media tour Thursday evening, checking audio, testing lights and vacuuming stairs on the Partridge Hall balcony.

"It's a bee hive of activity, that's for sure," said centre executive director Steve Solski, who led a tour through the facility's four venues and other nooks and crannies.

He estimated 50 workers were on site Thursday completing various aspects of the facility and setting up for events this weekend.

The shell of the building is ready but some details are still being finished.

It won't affect the occupation of the facility, but the facility's usage is affecting the workers.

"They can't come in and go, they have to work around our schedule," Solski said.

He estimated everything should be completely done by December.

"There's a few things here and there, like doors," he said, explaining the metal doors visitors will see in the venues this weekend are temporary because there were some issues with the fittings. Aisle lights were installed in Partridge Hall but some holes in the floor still had to be patched where seats were moved.

A donor wall in the Algoma Central Lobby will be installed in an event in March 2016.

For Solski and other staff, there's something new to see in the facility every day as workers complete another piece.

On Thursday, surround sound speakers had been hidden in the walls in the Film Theatre and doors were hung in the women's washroom. Colourful floor lights in the second-storey glass overhang were shining for the first time for everyone outside to see.

"I love the smell of a new theatre," Solski chimed.

The public can drink it in themselves during a free community open house Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. as part of opening weekend celebrations.

The $60 million, 95,000 square foot facility is expected to draw 125,000 visitors annually.

The St. Catharines Standard
By Karena Walter
Photo by Franki Ikeman/Welland Tribune/Postmedia Network