In September 2021, we wrote to you with an update on our efforts to determine a path forward. Thank you for your patience and support as we have worked through this challenging process.
Today we have very good news to report!
Our plans for rebuilding are finalized and we are making plans to commence work on site in April, with an estimated 12 months for completion.
The National Building Code and the Municipal Building Inspector looked at the rebuilding of the Playhouse as a new construction project rather than a renovation, and initially required that the Playhouse be constructed of non-combustible materials and incorporate a sprinkler system. As an 80 year old wooden structure located in a municipality that does not have a central public water supply, we could not meet either of these requirements and so we retained fire protection engineers to develop alternative compliance solutions. The goal was to provide equivalent building protection and ensure the safety of building occupants and surrounding buildings in event of fire. These proposed plans have been approved.
The resulting upgrades to the previous design and construction of the building will be expensive to implement and basic construction costs have also increased. On a more positive note, the scope of the damage means that we are now able to upgrade building quality and improve accessibility in areas of the Playhouse that were not within the scope of the previous restoration project.
The Playhouse has approached all government partners who are presently invested in the project with formal requests for supplemental funding. We have stressed that individual donors have given generously to the project already, plus are continuing to play a critical role in helping cover ongoing Playhouse operating costs. We are optimistic that the requests to our government partners will be successful but, if there is a shortfall, we will need to turn to our friends in the community for additional support.
We are pleased and heartened that all members of the Restoration Project team are stepping up to see this project through. This means that the experience gained, and the lessons learned from the restoration will flow through to what is now the Rebuilding Project.
We are really looking forward to breaking ground on the Chester Playhouse Rebuilding Project this spring, and to that day when we can celebrate a new Playhouse with you.
While we are under construction, the “Playhouse Without Walls” will continue to present exciting performing artists for your enjoyment so please join us at venues throughout the community for music, theatre and more. The arts will continue to bring us back together as we emerge from the very challenging isolation of the pandemic.
We know you may have questions about the project and that safety is a concern for our community. We invite you to ask them of us directly at an open Playhouse Rebuilding meeting on Tuesday, March 29th 4-5pm via Zoom.
Please register by CLICKING THIS LINK. Key team members will do a brief presentation, and then take your questions. We will also summarize the questions and answers and make them available through our newsletter and website following the meeting.
Thank you for your unwavering support, it means everything!
All my best,
Executive Director, Chester Playhouse