The Evergreen Theatre is the sole project of the Fundy Folk Association; a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization with a committed Board of Directors, whose mandate is to offer quality arts programming/cultural enrichment/social and volunteer opportunities to our rural community by presenting professional and amateur acts from a wide variety of performing arts, and by providing a performance venue, meeting and workshop space to the local community. The re-purposed 1860s-era Baptist church on the North Mountain above the Annapolis Valley brings a steady stream of professional artists from Nova Scotia, the rest of Canada and abroad to a rural area otherwise lacking a dedicated performance establishment. In its 15-year history, The Evergreen has developed from a local amateur talent event to a professional venue known across Nova Scotia, and further afield, as a surprising jewel in the travelling performance circuit around the Maritimes.
The Evergreen may be known and respected across Nova Scotia for its superb acoustics and intimate,, unique ambience (with its soft fixed-seating, professional stage drapery, framed portraits of well-known artists and cozy balcony); however, this is where the amenities end. The century and a half old building lacks plumbing, and artists and audience alike must trek outside in all weathers to a distinctly modern blue plastic porta-potty. Dressing rooms for the artists are non-existent and quick changes are done at stage right behind the side curtains. These limited facilities have also restricted alternate uses of the building, as per our original mandate.
Many of the Evergreen’s long term audiences profess to love the quaintness of the experience and continue to eagerly attend our events. But even the most devoted will admit that some improvements could be made. And we do know from anecdotal and other sources that there are many who do not attend our events for reasons of limited accessibility and amenities.
There have been many discussions over the years on the advisability of extensive improvements to our basic infrastructure, but no action in this regard has ever been taken beyond what has been necessary to meet (and exceed) standards concerning public safety. Our Board of Directors has now made a decision to take the next step in our evolution and an ambitious building program has been created both to solve outstanding issues and to create new opportunities to serve our community.
A new addition to the building will provide accessible washroom facilities, an artist dressing room, a café which extends to an outdoor deck in warmer months and a large multi-use lobby with a small second stage. This lobby area can be adapted to many other uses, such as meetings, yoga, workshops, receptions and the like. Winterization of the building will allow its use as a community gathering space year-round, unlike the present Margaretsville Community Hall which is not winterized.
The Evergreen Theatre operates ten months a year (March to December) and presents 25 plus shows a year. On average we fill two thirds of our 115 seats. Although the primary aim of the addition is not specifically to increase audience numbers, we believe that this would certainly happen. Our main objective however is to improve the accessibility and comfort of our building, which will increase participation and encourage the creation of new community projects and activities to utilize the improved space.
Initial planning work on the project has largely been achieved through community members’ generous financial donations and in-kind professional services. Such services have included surveying, legal work and architectural plans.