Built in 1858, the Brockville Arts Centre is one of Ontario’s most historic performing arts centres. Each year, the theatre hosts thousands of diverse guests for concerts, dance performances, plays, musicals and more. Recently, the arts centre underwent a much-needed facelift to not only restore its historic beauty, but to open its doors to as many customers as possible.
“We wanted to make sure the facility was accessible to everyone,” explains Peter Dunn, Administrator at the arts centre.
So, with design help from the Brockville Accessibility Advisory Committee, the arts centre put in automatic doors, accessible washrooms, an in-ear monitoring system for people with hearing loss, accessible viewing areas and two new lifts going to the stage and down into the orchestra pit.
For Brockville Concert Band member Beth Fraser, the lifts have been especially important. Beth, who uses a scooter, previously could not access the orchestra pit, and needed assistance to get on stage to perform.
“The lifts have been wonderful,” she says. “I never thought I’d be able to play in the orchestra pit. It’s really nice to be able to get here on my own, to be able to perform, which is what I love to do.”
Beth has nothing but praise for the effort the arts centre has put into removing barriers for people of all different abilities.
“I know that the things they’ve done are going to make it easier for people who are using canes, who have visual disabilities, hearing impairments — they’ve tried to take all of those things into account,” she says. “And it means they’re welcoming to everybody.”
And while the physical renovations play a huge part in that, part of that welcoming quality exists thanks to the great customer service the arts centre has always provided. All of the staff have taken accessible customer service training and know how to meet the needs of any customer as a result, says Peter. And staff understand that great customer service makes for happy and returning customers, and that is precisely what the arts centre strives for.
“We want every person to walk out of here and feel like they’ve been treated with respect and had a good experience here,” Peter explains. “We feel that everyone should have the same rights and opportunities, and we are proud to present that here at the Brockville Arts Centre.”