Sagebrush Theatre is closed indefinitely due to structural issues.
Kamloops-Thompson school district of facilities Art McDonald said the 685-seat theatre at 1300 Ninth Ave. — attached to South Kamloops secondary — closed on Thursday due to a crack in one of the roof trusses.
The theatre is jointly owned by the City of Kamloops and the school district.
“The theatre operators noticed some cracks in the ceiling, so I had that report to me Wednesday. We had our structural engineer look at it yesterday,” McDonald said. “We’ve got one of the trusses, a piece of the timber is cracked. So, as a precautionary measure, we’re just shutting the theatre down and we’re working on a plan to fix it.”
McDonald said there is no timeline for when the venue will re-open.
“One of the challenges is the location being in the theatre,” he said. “The roof structure is high and then everything below it is tiered seating, so it just makes it awkward.”
There is not cost estimate for the repairs, but McDonald said it would likely be paid for through an insurance claim. McDonald said the engineer will devise a plan, but the truss will be shored up to prevent further damage.
In the meantime, the facility has been deemed “unsafe,” McDonald said, noting trusses help to hold the roof up.
The theatre is home to Western Canada Theatre and the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and is used by touring acts and the school district.
Western Canada Theatre was advised on Thursday of the closure and is apparently making alternative venue plans for its upcoming production, The Buddy Holly Story, which debuts in less than one week, on Feb. 21.
KTW reached out to WCT, but has yet to hear back from the theatre company about an alternative venue. Other venues in Kamloops include the theatre in the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre on Rogers Way in Aberdeen, which can hold up to 450 people, and Pavilion Theatre at 10th Avenue and Lorne Street near downtown, which can seat 165 patrons.
McDonald said he does not know where Sagebrush user groups will go in the meantime.
“This just came up Wednesday and yesterday, so I don’t know what their plans are yet,” he said.
City of Kamloops culture manager Barbara Berger said the city is supporting user groups and Western Canada Theatre, which manages bookings for the theatre, in compiling a list of all potential venues that might be available as a “makeshift performance space.”
Those venues could include the Thompson Rivers University alumni theatre, school gyms and Sandman Centre. In addition to user groups and touring acts utilizing the theatre, Berger said year-end dance performances are also on the horizon.
“It’s a very heavy booking period,” Berger said. “It is. Between now and the middle of July is a really busy time.”
As discussion surrounding a performing-arts centre is rekindled, Berger said the Sagebrush closure adds to the conversation for a new facility.
“When we can take the only proscenium theatre out of the mix that can seat over 300 people, it’s a devastating loss when you don’t have anything else,” she said. “But, like I say, everyone will work really hard and creatively as possible. These things happen and you just have to try to come up with the best solution you possibly can.”
Sagebrush is more than 40 years old.
The Kamloops Symphony Orchestra is due to host an event at the theatre in March, while Tom Cochrane and Red Rider is set to take the stage in about a month.
In May of last year, the federal government gave $188,000 for renovations to be made at Sagebrush and Pavilion theatres.
Sagebrush was to get new emergency exit doors, carpeting and a rigging system, while Pavilion Theatre was to get new lighting and flooring.