After months of delay, the Norman Bouchard Memorial Theatre is expected to re-open to the public in the fall semester.
Back in December — while renovations at the Life Building were still taking place — $7,300 worth of equipment was stolen from the construction site, which contributed in part to the delay.
“Right now, we still don’t have our stolen equipment back in there,” said Dana Correch, a UBC Film Society (FilmSoc) theatre manager.
There [are] a few reasons for that; that equipment has been bought and paid for by the AMS ... but it’s just not installed in the theatre yet because there has been a whole lot of extra renovations happening that we didn’t know were going to happen.”
Since December, Correch said the project has faced a host of new challenges including changing the carpets, getting the electricity licensed and covering the entire lobby area with a new coat of paint.
Next generation of the Norm
Named after long-time FilmSoc executive Norman Bouchard, the theatre was located in the old Student Union Building and featured “current movies, independent films, screenings, and special events including conferences and lectures.”
“In my first year, the Norm theatre was still fully operational, and we basically had ... four screenings a week and every screening [was] a double bill [so] we were doing eight screenings [weekly],” said Correch.
Once construction in the old Student Union Building (SUB) began, it was assumed that the Norm would still be accessible. But according to AMS VP Administration Cole Evans, it was discovered after the construction period that the Norm was not ready to open.
Evans explained that renovations to the SUB revealed the theatre to be non-compliant with building code, which required multiple items in the space to be upgraded.
AMS Council recently approved the release of $16,000 in additional expenditures from the AMS contingency fund to “only be used if required by the project to ensure Safety and Building Code Upgrades.” This comes after consultation with BIRD Construction in May, which saw that the “cost is $16,000 higher than what the AMS already has allocated to LIFE Building Renovations.”
Once completed, the Norm theatre will gain basic functionality and then transition over to Phase II, which will focus on expanding the potential of existing space.
While Correch agreed that the AMS took on complete financial responsibility for the Norm theatre upgrades, she also argued the project could have been better prioritized.
"There’s been a lot of stuff that the AMS has been prioritizing over the theatre at the start of this academic year,” she said.
“Pretty much that meant the Norm renovations took a backseat, which is why only now are we getting to a lot of these important accessibility restrictions and code restrictions that we should have gotten to earlier.”
Once the theatre is open, Correach hopes to train the next generation of incoming FilmSoc executive members, including floor managers and projectionists, on how to run the theatre.
“Seeing the new generation of FilmSoc exec who have never seen the theatre and how passionate they still are about getting the theatre up and running, even though they never saw it, it’s really inspiring to me,” she said.
“That just makes it clear to me that this is work that needs to be prioritized, this is work that should be a big deal to the AMS because it’s a big deal to the students.”