Two and a half years after purchasing the building at 2203 Gottingen Street, the Bus Stop Theatre Co-op announced the completion of an extensive renovation project.
“It’s strange to be calling this a reopening” says Executive Director Sébastien Labelle “we’ve, of course, been open on and off since the renovations began. But now that we’re pretty much 99% done, and with the announcements coming today, it finally feels safe to say: we did it!”
Labelle refers to newly announced government funding to help cover the ballooning costs of renovations since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “What started out as a $400,000 project in 2020, ended up being a $950,000 project by 2022.” explained Labelle during a celebratory event last Sunday.
MP Andy Fillmore and MLA Suzy Hansen were both present for the announcements, which included $400,000 in federal funding through Canadian Heritage and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, $71,500 from the province of Nova Scotia and $16,000 from HRM Councillors.
Both Fillmore and Hansen applauded the work and perseverance of the Bus Stop Theatre Co-op at the event, while Councillor Lindell Smith offered a written statement noting the inclusive mandate of the organisation: “this space was, and will continue to be a space that welcomes all to be who they are and share that with our community.”
This new funding comes after an initial wave of support from all three levels of government (totalling $960,000) that allowed the co-op to take ownership of the building in 2020 and begin renovations a year later. Labelle noted that the success of the campaign also relied on financing from iNova Credit Union and a right of first refusal given by the previous owners.
The renovations were completed by Leasehold Improvements with designs by Peter Henry Architects. They include a brand new building facade and lobby, new backstage dressing rooms and a new rehearsal studio in the building’s basement. Accessibility was a number one priority, says Labelle. Remodelling of the entrances and interior was designed to meet high accessibility standards throughout the building for artists, patrons and staff. A new accessible bar built with two levels and custom taps that can be reached from a wheelchair is a highlight and the only one of its kind in the region. “We’re known to be a welcoming and inclusive organisation” says Labelle “we wanted to ensure that the building itself reflected that.”