News / Regina

In pictures: Organization vying to turn century-old Saskatchewan opera house into community centre

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A century ago, it was the first opera house on the Prairies and hosted hundreds of travelling performers in the town of Indian Head, but the future of the Nite Hawk Theatre is up in the air — prompting a community group to step forward.

The non-profit group — which officially began in June as Indian Head Theatre and Community Arts Inc. — wants to buy the building, upgrade its equipment and keep the space, which was converted into a movie theatre in the 1930s, as a theatre and community centre hosting programs and events.

“We didn’t want to lose the theatre,” Greg Miller, a board member of the organization, told Metro in Indian Head, about 70 kilometres east of Regina, on Wednesday.

“There is so much potential to make this, a movie theatre and performing arts centre, into someplace bigger bands will want to stop in.”

The group has to raise more than $120,000 to be able to secure a bank loan to purchase the building, as well as to upgrade from its old film projectors. They must raise the money before the current owners list the property on Nov. 1.

Their first big fundraiser is a concert on Saturday night. They hope the Regina bands performing — Rah Rah, Library Voices, Indigo Joseph and Andy Shauf — will encourage people to make the trek from Regina, and even get a bus running from the Queen City.

“We are hoping to draw a much greater regional audience by having some amazing live performances that you wouldn’t typically see in a small community,” said Tara-Leigh Heslip, who is on the board and works as co-ordinator of the town’s Main Street Revitalization.

“It really is a great venue. ... When you get into (the building), you just get it.”

The show this weekend will have a paranormal twist with a visit from a psychic medium — because Miller says the building is “terribly haunted.”

Although some of the opera house changed when it became the theatre, its original beams in the ceiling of the stage remain intact, as do some of the fixtures and signatures on the walls by performers dating back to 1904 when it was built.

“We are hoping as people come out here that they recognize the awesomeness of it,” said Miller.

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