SLC seeks sustainable future for Aultsville Theatre

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By Nick Seebruch
SLC seeks sustainable future for Aultsville Theatre
St. Lawrence College's Cornwall Campus (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – In a presentation to Cornwall City Council on Monday night, Sept. 13, St. Lawrence College (SLC) President Glenn Vollebregt hinted at coming changes to the College’s relationship to Aultsville Theatre which is on their Cornwall Campus.

“As our mandate as a college we are not allowed to run facilities and programs that are not part of our mandate,” he said. “And yet I know the importance of Aultsville Theatre and its importance to culture and our community.”

“It’s an amazing place and its important that this facility remains successful and remains sustainable,” he went on to say.

Councillor Syd Gardiner stated that he believed that in the past SLC had committed to maintaining Aultsville Theatre after the closure of Cornwall’s old Capitol Theatre in 1985. Vollebregt replied that he was not aware of that agreement being in perpetuity.

“The college has to protect itself in terms of its own reserves,” said Vollebregt, adding that “The theatre isn’t part of our programming.”

Vollebregt also told Council that the spacious Aultsville Theatre was not often used by the College.

“We use it once, maybe twice a year,” he stated.

That being said, Vollebregt told Council that an SLC working group was studying ways to make Aultsville sustainable in the long term. He said that the plan they were coming up with was entirely based around cost recovery and not generating profit.

When asked about Aultsville Theatre after the meeting, Mayor Glen Grant did not rule out the possibility of the City providing financial support to the institution. Grant asked administration to return to Council with a report about the future of the theatre.

“To retrofit that into classrooms is a huge cost that I don’t think the College is ready to take on,” he said.

Grant said that Aultsville Theatre was important to the Cornwall community and noted that it was supported by a team of dedicated volunteers who he hoped would remain engaged as a new path forward for the theatre was developed.

When asked if the future Cornwall Arts Centre that is planned for the former Bank of Montreal in Cornwall’s downtown could supplant Aultsville Theatre Grant said no, pointing out that Aultsville was a much larger space and was a venue with a different character than the proposed Arts Centre.

Seaway News reached out to SLC to ask what their working group was proposing for the future of Aultsville, but did not receive any new information at the time of publication.

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