Theatre sits tight

UPGRADE NEEDED: Wehl Street Theatre management committee chairman Tony Chalinor and secretary Chris Davey have urged the community to rally behind a bid for state funding to overhaul the dilapidated seating at the iconic facility. Picture: BRITTANY DENTON

“THE seats are now over 40 years old and they are literally falling to pieces,” Wehl Street Theatre management committee chairman Tony Chalinor told The Border Watch last week.

“After nearly every production there are a number of chairs that need repairing – it is a constant job for the volunteer committee.”

The dilapidated seating at Mount Gambier’s iconic community theatre is in desperate need of an overhaul and volunteers have urged the community to rally behind a bid for state funding.

“We hope to secure funding through the State Government’s Fund My Neighbourhood scheme to purchase new seating,” Mr Chalinor said.

“We have had it priced and had started to fund raise but could see it would take years to get together the sort of money required – the Fund My Neighbourhood scheme would be an excellent way to improve the theatre.”

Mr Chalinor said the seating was purchased 20 years ago and was only intended as a stopgap measure.

“The seating was already 20 years old when it was installed here, it was originally installed at the old Sturt Street cinema so the design is very dated,” he said.

“It was only ever meant to be an interim arrangement – here we are two decades later and now it really is time for a seating upgrade.”

Secretary Chris Davey said the proposed new seating would lift the appearance of the auditorium and the enduring modern design would last another few decades.

“The seats we have opted for are ergonomic with a high back cushion and the padded arm rests can be replaced as needed,” Mr Davey said.

“The new seats will last another 20 years without the need for constant maintenance and the classic red colour will be a vast improvement.”

As Mount Gambier’s only community theatre, Mr Chalinor said the Wehl Street facility was used extensively during the year.

“The theatre provides affordable hire for local arts and entertainment groups and theatre groups from away,” Mr Chalinor said.

“We are hoping new seating will help attract more audiences – people deserve to be comfortable when they buy tickets to a production.

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