The Moose Jaw Cultural Centre (MJCC) is looking fresh and clean after a month-long maintenance shutdown in August, said executive director Sarah Simison, and has also acquired some exciting new equipment to boost the facility’s capabilities.
“Our renovations this year have mostly been cosmetic,” Simison explained. “Some people think we’re tearing downs walls and things, and they come in wondering where the big renovations have happened, but that’s not what’s going on.”
Nevertheless, she said, keeping the Cultural Centre looking and feeling its best is part of being responsible for the facility on behalf of the community of Moose Jaw. The MJCC is a central hub for the city’s vibrant arts, crafts, and performance scene, and it stays busy and sees a lot of traffic.
“So, last year was the first time we just closed down in August, and it’s very common for theatres to do that, actually. I was starting as the new director, and most of the staff were pretty new, and as a resident of the building I had noticed some peeling paint in places, and little nicks and dents in the walls, and it was starting to get just a little shabby, I thought,” Simison said.
Simison took the MJCC executive director job last year, but she’s been in the building for over 13 years already as part of the Saskatchewan Festival of Words literary festival.
“Our schedule is so busy throughout the year, so I asked the city, if we close down in August, can we get some of those things done, and our production manager needs to paint the stage at least once a year, and our art gallery needs painting, and that’s all hard to do with people coming in and out constantly.
“Being able to do all of that in one fell swoop makes life a lot easier for the team and ensures that we’re good stewards of this building for the community and that it stays safe and healthy.”
Last year, the focus was the façade and a deep clean of some hidden corners — the building is quite enormous. This year, upgrades included:
- New carpets in the lobbies both upstairs and downstairs, and the staircase between
- Fresh coats of paint on all baseboards, and the Mae Wilson stage
- All 150 lighting fixtures were removed, cleaned, placed, and positioned
- Ice machine deep clean
- Emergency fire curtain test and maintenance
- Full professional cleaning of the Mae Wilson seats and carpet
- Full testing of the complex theatrical rigging system
Entering the era of digital theatre
Eric La France, production manager at the MJCC, said he’s grateful for the dedicated time to get maintenance done, but he was also happy to share details of a huge upgrade to the Mae Wilson’s projection capabilities.
“It’s exciting, because we’ve entered the realm of digital cinema, which is quite a step up because it follows a quality standard set by movie studios and distributors.”
The MJCC now boasts a Barco SP2K-9 digital laser projector, with a new high-quality projector screen to match. It creates a much better picture for a fraction of the electricity, generates less heat, and the ‘bulbs’ last more than 10 times as long before needing replacement.
“The older projectors made a lot of heat and needed their own exhaust system, so these laser projectors are much more efficient and economical. This is a cinema projector designed to be used every day, and we don’t show movies every day, so this will last us for, you know, 20 years,” La France explained.
“The quality is excellent. We have 2K resolution on a new, 30-foot screen, which is optimized for digital laser projection, so much better colours and contrast.”
Surround sound components have been added to create 5.1 sound in the theatre, as well. La France said that hopefully, within a year or two, they will be completely replacing all the older components of the sound system, completing the theatre upgrade.
“This puts us at the same technology and quality standard as [any commercial cinema],” La France added.
Visit the MJCC website at www.moosejawculture.ca to see the full schedule for upcoming cultural events.
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