It was part of the soft opening of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre – however, nothing soft about the applause.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   September 23, 2011  And there it was, a theatre slowly filling up with people and dead ahead a rich, crimson red velour curtain.  It was kind of enchanting.  It wasn’t LaScala in Rome or the Metropolitan Opera in New York – but it was the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and it was about to hold its first public event.  Well not quite public – this was an Invitation Only event for the hundreds of people who wrote cheques that amounted to more than $11 million dollars.

The first person to ever take the stage before an audience was Denise Walker, chief fund raiser for the Centre who gracefully thanked the audience for the support that was given before there were shovels in the ground and before the city had given its consent and support for the project.

A short piece of entertainment was put on – nice and light – more of a reminder that you were in a theatre and that there was much, much more to come.

The event Thursday evening was the first of two such “Thank You Very Much” events.  The first layer of donours filled the Family Room.  Theatre management wanted a relaxed evening for the donours so split the event into two parts.  The second group will attend on Saturday and they too will appreciate the 25 foot bar on the south side of the Family Room.  This is a decent place to get a drink.

The Family Room is spacious and it was full – not packed to the walls, but you did have to work your way through groups of people.  Small tables had been set up throughout the room – they were like ‘talking stations’ you went from table to table and talked with friends.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre on the Thank You All Very Much event.

The real show gets on the road October 1st when Royal Wood will take to the stage but Thursday and Saturday were events for the people who made it happen.  Seen in the crowd were former Mayor Walter Mulkewich and Deb Tymstra, two people who were there at the beginning and involved in the fund raising.  The irony of the evening could not have been lost on Deb Tymstra who was a little more than a week away from closing the doors to Creative Burlington, an organization that was originally known as “Performing Arts”.  They were the people that tilled the soil and advocated for a performing arts centre.

There were speeches – three and all were mercifully short.  The triumvirate that currently serves as “the city Manager” Scott Stewart, Kim Phillips and Steve Zorbas were on hand.  Zorbas sits on the BPAC board and we wondered if he was on hand to pick up the rent cheque but it turns out the lease between the city and the non-profit corporation that runs the BPAC hasn’t been completed – looks like they are in there rent free.


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