deCoste Sets the Stage for Reopening (Chronicle Herald)


The deCoste Performing Arts Centre in Pictou is getting ready to reopen. After all, the show must go on.

Troy Greencorn, executive director of the venue, said there were a lot of reasons behind the decision to open now, albeit on a smaller scale. While they could have waited until crowd size limits increased, they decided to act now for two simple reasons – artists need work and the community needs entertainment. Not to mention downtown Pictou businesses and restaurants rely on the crowds that the deCoste draws in.

The deCoste will reopen its doors on Aug. 3 with a series of shows and then take it from there. While under normal circumstances the theatre can seat up to 420 people, in an effort to ensure proper social distancing (and err on the side of caution) they have reduced it to 100 seats.

“We could sit back and say we can’t open until we can have 300-400 people in the building, but we want to get back to having shows,” Greencorn said.

Visitors to the deCoste will notice a very different feel inside.

“The first visual impact will be the enormous amount of space,” Greencorn said. “Six feet is a lot of space between a couple seats.”

He hopes that gives people a sense of comfort as they enjoy the show.

There will be other less-noticeable changes as well. Traffic will be one way and there will be arrows that guide people through the building. There will also be touch-free hand sanitizers located throughout the building and Plexiglass barriers have been installed in a number of places, including the box office and the bar.

When people buy tickets, they’ll also be asked a number of screening questions to make sure they haven’t been out of Atlantic Canada or near others with COVID-19.

The first shows held the week of Aug. 3-Aug. 5 will actually take place outside on the deck under tents.

“What we wanted to do was welcome people back to the facility in an outdoor space,” Greencorn said. “Many people are feeling more comfortable to be outside than inside.”

During those shows, Greencorn said they will invite people to tour the inside of the centre to have a look at the new safety measures in place.

Already, some of the booked events are almost sold out and Greencorn is confident with the help of government subsidies and ongoing support of sponsors that they’ll be able to cover their overhead costs.

He said it was a huge relief to hear that the federal government was extending the wage subsidy through December.

“That was a massive relief. I could release a breath and plan to put together a great fall lineup.”

While when normal will return or what the future holds is still up in the air, Greencorn said they’re optimistic.

The deCoste Centre is hoping to soon embark on a major renovation, which has been in the works for years that will see it transformed into a culture hub with a space for the Pictou library and an art gallery as well as new washrooms. They’re waiting on infrastructure funding to be approved but once that is given the go-ahead, they could start construction as early as this fall.

Because of what they know from going through the pandemic, they’ll be able to incorporate the best modern safety measures into the design.

“We could lament where we are, but we need to look to the future,” Greencorn said. “There really is no alternative.”

For more information on upcoming shows visit .

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