USU Eastern Vice Chancellor Greg Benson stands next to the completed extension to the civic auditorium stage. Benson said he is excited with the changes to the auditorium and is hoping to bring back the Eastern Utah Wind Symphony and the Messiah to the venue.
The Price City Civic Auditorium is undergoing a bit of a makeover. Instead of applying makeup, an extension to the stage, new carpeting and new stairs and hand railings were the first steps in the process.
Upgrading the auditorium was a topic of discussion by the Price City Council that began last year and the first results of the completed work were put on display by city officials last week. While the construction is intended to help upgrade the auditorium and make it more visually appealing, the work will not take away or change the historical appeal of the auditorium.
"We want to keep the original feel of the auditorium even with the changes," said Bret Cammans, customer services director with Price City. "We have a good plan and it should only get better from here."
The aforementioned upgrades are just the beginning of a three-year plan to makeover the auditorium. In 2011-12 the curtain and pulley system will be replaced and the back stage walls will be painted. In 2012-13, the balcony will be restored and put into use again, structural assessment, restoration of damaged plaster and more painting will be done. In 2013-14, the stage lighting, sound system and fire alarm system will all be upgraded.
The first phase of the work in the auditorium came at a cost of $30,000, with the stage extension costing $23,000 and the new carpeting costing $7,000, according to Cammans. The work was funded by the city and also in partnership with restaurant tax funds.
The stage extension has already been put to use once before, as the band Due West performed one day after the work on the stage was completed. With the stage extending closer to the audience, Cammans said one row of seating was removed to help keep enough room between the stage and the audience.
"Improving safety was one of the main reasons why the extension was completed," Cammans said. Also in place now are new sets of stairs with handrails on both sides of the stage, offering more room and easier access to the stage for performers.
While the auditorium has hosted one large performance to date, dates are being booked already to use it and more may be on the way.
Greg Benson, vice chancellor at USU Eastern, was pleased with the new upgrades to the auditorium. Benson, who is the conductor for the Eastern Utah Wind Symphony and the Messiah, said it has been a few years since either group has performed at the auditorium. The Wind Symphony and the Messiah were previously conducted on a regular basis in the civic auditorium but were moved due to the performances outgrowing the size of the stage.
Now with the auditorium undergoing changes, Benson is excited at the idea of moving both performances back to the civic auditorium.
"The work is not only beautiful, but it also enhances the function of the auditorium," Benson said. "We would definitely be looking to use it as soon as possible."
Many have said the civic auditorium stands out for the acoustics it provides during performances. Grady McEvoy, department chair of Theatre Arts at USU Eastern, said the work completed so far creates a more intimate setting, bringing the performers closer to the audience.
"It's a wonderful space, and the acoustics in here sound great," McEvoy said.
McEvoy was quick to point out that the changes, including those to the speaker system, could make the civic auditorium stand out from other venues in the area. Possibly a little too much.
"You just want to be careful that you don't shake the building down because of the acoustics in here," he quipped.
The upgrades to the auditorium are helping to partner the college and the city together again, McEvoy said. Price City Councilwoman Kathy Hanna-Smith said that the completed work will help bring in more performances to the auditorium, restoring it to the level it was once at previously.
"We'll definitely see a return on this investment," Hanna-Smith said.