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Funding infusion to help Mermaid Theatre improve home base

WINDSOR, N.S. — Mermaid Imperial Performing Arts Centre is about to get some much-needed upgrades thanks to federal and provincial funding.

Sara Lee Lewis, more commonly known as Lee Lewis, is one of three people responsible for the inception of the Mermaid Theatre.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency announced on Feb. 15 a contribution of $41,125 through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (CIP150). The Province of Nova Scotia, through the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, also supported the project with a matching contribution.

"Mermaid has been an important cultural institution in Windsor for over 30 years. The town is justifiably proud of the theatre's commitment to Windsor and of course of its internationally-renowned reputation,” said Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison in a press release.

The funding will be used to upgrade the roof, backstage floors, plus the interior and exterior walls.

Sara Lee Lewis, the public affairs consultant and co-founder of Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, said the funding will do wonders for the site.

“After last year's storm, we had to replace our roof, which cost $50,000,” said Lewis in a phone interview.

Lewis said they're proud to be located on Windsor's main street and are doing their part to help revitalize the downtown core.

“It's so much fun to see reverse migration and people coming into Windsor, especially when we have performances at MIPAC,” said Lewis.

When rising country star Brett Kissel came to town in January, people of all ages packed the venue.

“It's also very good for the town. The restaurants are full. People go to have coffee and buy gas locally,” she said.

The theatre, which seats 400 people, entertains visitors throughout the year through its performing arts series. The building, which has undergone renovations over the years, also houses Mermaid's own theatre production centre, administrative and rehearsal quarters, a teaching wing, plus the Institute of Puppetry Arts. The place also serves as a venue to showcase Mermaid Theatre’s international touring shows.

“This will enhance our ability to showcase our local talents in the arts community,” said Hants West MLA Chuck Porter in the press release.

Lewis said the funding will make their headquarters that much better.

“What the money helps us with is we have a safe building (and) it will be even more attractive. The roof won't leak onto our precious puppets – because that is our inventory and it takes us around the world so we can't have water damage,” she said.

“The dressing rooms have cardboard on the floor but now they're going to have carpet, which also is not only attractive but it is soundproof for when the artists are backstage,” she added.

The next performer scheduled for Mermaid Theatre is JUNO Award-winning Blackie and the Rodeo Kings member Stephen Fearing, who will be in Windsor April 7 at 8 p.m.


Did you know?

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia has been introducing family audiences to live theatre and the performing arts since it launched in 1972.

The theatre is known worldwide for its adaptations of popular children’s literature. Their shows use puppetry, scenic effects and original music to bring the characters to life. Mermaid Theatre’s shows have toured 19 countries.

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