The Paragon is a Movie Theatre Again!

The following is taken from an April 7, 2016 Facebook post by Roger Harrison.
That box on the stage contains the retractable screen, waiting to be hoisted into position

That box on the stage contains the retractable screen, waiting to be hoisted into position

Late last year, my group the Beaverhill Players was chosen by Beaver County to be the administrators of the theatre in Holden beginning January 1. We had been using the building for five years to put on our plays and host our Junior Players theatre school and we really wanted to make more and better use of the building but had not been in the position to do so.


The building is owned by the County. In their request for a proposal from groups interested in running the theatre they stressed the importance of collaboration and cooperation with groups and citizens of the County. It was obvious to us already anyway that given the population base and information presented in the Beaver Regional Partnership Recreation and Culture Services Master Plan that this approach would be the only suitable way to proceed.

We had to fit this mandate into our organizational structure, which is completely a volunteer base. We have no paid staff. This meant that we had to find solutions that were workable with limited resources of time.

One of our solutions, and a pet project of mine for over ten years when I briefly sat on the board of the Beaver Regional Arts Society, was to use the facility to play movies. Since this doesn’t require months of rehearsal, it’s a good solution for a volunteer group because we get to engage and entertain the community as per our mandate but it doesn’t strain our volunteer base time-wise.

An 18-foot ceiling makes tall ladders a necessity. We prepped the mounting points prior to the install crew's arrival

An 18-foot ceiling makes tall ladders a necessity. We prepped the mounting points prior to the install crew’s arrival

I’m happy to say that we have installed our screen, our projector is delivered and set up, and we are ready to offer this to everyone in the County and beyond.

Part of the funding for this project came from donations from Beaver Municipal Solutions, the County of Beaver, the Village of Holden, and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. This means that it is partly paid for with public funds. We want you to know that we take that responsibility very seriously. We all work for a living and the last thing any of us want to see is our hard-earned money going down a rabbit hole never to return. We take our mandate seriously of looking after the County’s building and we want you to come and have a look at what we’ve been working on at our Grand Opening on the weekend of April 15-17. Not just the Junior Players theatre school’s Showcase, which I spend 8 months a year teaching and working on at least twice a week, but improvements we’ve either already done or as of this writing have arranged to have done to the facility in the short time we’ve had it. When we toured the Citadel Theatre earlier in the year, one of the many things we agreed with them on was that every penny they make goes back into the building. The same is true of the Jubilee auditoria, and it’s true of us.

Also in this vein, we are aware that our enhanced access to public funds gives us a small advantage over private businesses that show movies and we will be careful to respect this.
We also decided that we’d like to change the name of the building back to its original, the Paragon Theatre. There are several reasons for this, but one result will be a name that’s a lot easier to remember!

We were frankly overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for our endeavors. There are never too many to list, though, and we’re grateful. In between my work and other commitments I will add them to our website.
We have parent volunteers as well who are involved with the Junior Players who make my life easier than I have a right to expect.
I’d also like to thank the Holden Ag Society for their help on our opening night. If you go to their Steak & Shrimp dinner, which happens to fall on our opening night of April 15, that gets you free admission to Showcase. They bumped up their dinnertime to 5pm for us, because our doors open at 6 and we didn’t want to rush people, and they aren’t charging any extra for Showcase tickets but they are donating to us for each one. They didn’t have to do that, but it’s just another example of how we’re being humbled and overwhelmed with local support.

The finished product. From high up in the control room it doesn't look so big, but it's over 28 feet diagonal, plenty big enough!

The finished product. From high up in the control room it doesn’t look so big, but it’s over 28 feet diagonal, plenty big enough!

The theatre is available for rent at a rate which covers utilities, and if you’re charging admission we ask for a reasonable door split. We are already hosting the Josephburg Mens Choir on May 7th thanks to these attractive terms. If you want to host private movie parties just let us know.
The Ryley School is performing Alice Through The Looking Glass on Friday May 6, at 7pm, something else that will be on our site as soon as I have more details.
Anyway I know this is a long post so I’ll sum it up in two words…
Thank you.
We would not have been able to accomplish this project for at least another year if it hadn’t been for the valuable assistance of our sponsors, notably Beaver Municipal Solutions, the County of Beaver, and the Village of Holden.


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