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Lend a hand and ‘take a seat’ by buying a seat at Handsworth’s new performing arts space

Ecole Handsworth Secondary is raising funds to purchase production equipment and seats for its new performance space
The Ecole Handsworth Secondary school community is raising funds for seats and production equipment for its new performing arts space due to open in early 2022.

North Vancouver’s largest secondary school is asking folks to ‘take a seat’ and help raise funds to purchase production equipment for its new performance space.

In 2022, Ecole Handsworth Secondary will be moving into its new building, inclusive of a performing arts space; however, seats, lighting and sound equipment are not part of the new space.

Donors can purchase a retractable seat for the performance space, starting at $500. Theatre instructor David Beare has been teaching theatre at the school since 1996, and said since the campaign launch on Dec. 1, they have already sold around 50 of the 270 seats available for sale.

“I’m excited for new possibilities,” Beare said. “The fundraiser [has] been a great way to talk to people, to build community. With COVID, we lost our community. And it feels really exciting to do something constructive to bring people together.”

Beare added that for many senior students, the upcoming theatre and music shows will be the first time they perform in front of a big crowd, as the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled in-person showcases since April 2020.

“What's really interesting is that every single Grade 12 person has never done a big show before, this is all new for them. While usually, the tradition gets passed down from generation to generation. So going into the new school, it’s kind of like a clean slate,” he said.

North Vancouver School District said in a statement to North Shore News that as the new Handsworth building is considered a replacement school project, and not a new build, the provincial education ministry allocates equipment funding.

“Various departments throughout the school were asked to provide a wish list of equipment items for review. A committee then reviewed the list and prioritized the items, taking a balanced and equitable approach to the allocation of resources to best meet the needs of the student and staff population,” the statement said.

“We would like to acknowledge and commend the Handsworth school administration team for the work they have done to date with the new Handsworth Secondary. Doors open to students and staff early February, and like Argyle Secondary, Handsworth will be a community asset that will benefit the community for the next 60 years,” it added.

Commemorative plaques customized with names or dedications will be installed on the donated seats and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Pricing is tiered depending on the row in which the seat will be situated.

Donations made before Jan. 15 will also include a tour of the new Handsworth building in late-January, before it officially opens.

Beare said because the performing arts have been especially “hit hard,” the fundraiser will ensure the long-term health of the Handsworth performing arts community.

“I feel like my purpose until the end of my career, is to get the Handsworth theatre program and the Handsworth performing arts program back on its feet, and let it shine,” he said.  “This fundraiser is a way of bringing that energy in.”

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