Hopes for Empress spotlight to shine again
Published Sunday, November 22, 2009 4:50PM EST
Once a thriving Vaudeville theatre, the old Cinema V in Notre Dame de Grace may be getting a new lease on life, all thanks to the tenacity of local groups that want to see the building put to good use.
The Phoenician-style repertory theatre, now called the Empress on Sherbrooke St., was closed by fire in 1992. It was bought by the city of Montreal in the late 90s, but with several unsuccessful attempts to revive it, has largely sat quiet ever since.
Now the city of Montreal and NDG borough are on board to initiate a joint project between Geordie Theatre, Black Theatre Workshop, McGill Music Conservatory and the city where they would share the building.
"We'd like to turn this into a community facility that would have an awful lot of cultural activities and learning opportunities for youth," said Peter McAuslan from the Empress Cultural Centre.
The project is estimated to cost $11.8 million, half of which would come from the provincial government, and though Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre and NDG MNA Kathleen Weil support the idea, those close to the project are crossing their fingers, waiting for the go-ahead from the province.
"We think there is a need, and I think there is a need, in NDG for that kind of infrastructure and we are willing to work with them," said St-Pierre.
Dean Patrick Fleming of Geordie Theatre thinks the Empress will be a boon for the bustling neighbourhood.
"I think it would be amazing for the community, not only for Black Theatre Workshop and Geordie Theatre, but to have a cultural building with professional theatre, professional music, happening all the time. I think that's exactly what we need here," said Fleming.
Meanwhile, the spotlight remains out on the Empress.
"There seems to be a lack of action at this point. We really need them to use their political power to make this project become a reality," said McAuslan