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Auditorium renovation gets helping hand

Posted: November 5, 2008 9:29 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2008 4:59 a.m.
The auditorium at Newhall Elementary School, built in the 1940s and once used by William S. Hart to screen western movies, has been long underused because it is far from being a viable performance space.

But that could change now that the Newhall School District partnered with the Canyon Theatre Guild for the restoration and use of the defunct auditorium. The district governing board voted to approve the new lease agreement at its Tuesday night meeting.

In exchange for significant upgrades and use of the auditorium, the agreement
stipulates that the Canyon Theatre Guild will raise funds, supervise construction and ultimately produce child-oriented performances in the space.

"The Canyon Theatre Guild is excited to be collaborating with the Newhall School District to create a beautiful, new theater space to serve the young people and families of Santa Clarita," said TimBen Boydston, executive and artistic director of the Guild. "We look forward to working with the community to raise the approximately $1 million that it will take to complete the renovation."

The Canyon Theatre Guild is a community theater group that operates a 300-seat theater on Main Street in Newhall. The Guild has long desired to create a theater group devoted solely to children's theater and the involvement of local children in the dramatic arts, Boydston said.

The auditorium was converted to a warehouse space for the district 20 years ago and has stood virtually unused for the past eight years. A partnership with Theatre Arts For Children brought the auditorium up to seismic standards, cleaned the facility and installed basic safety equipment, but that organization felt that the complete restoration project was beyond their reach.

"When we are finished, the district and Newhall Elementary School will have an auditorium space to use during the school day and for special events," Boydston said. "The Canyon Theatre Guild will have a home for its children's theater productions and space to increase the number of classes offered to children after school, on weekends and during school breaks."

The Newhall district did not have the means to renovate the auditorium without assistance from the community, according to Robert Jensen, district governing board president.

"This new lease agreement with Canyon Theatre Guild is the first step toward re-energizing our goal of creating a performance space, and we are pleased to take action to create this partnership," Jensen said.


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