EDITORIAL – Getting behind better seating at performing arts venues

(Image: Andrew Cooper)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

I MAY BE GETTING AHEAD of myself on this one but I have an early request for the new performing arts centre —  if it ever gets off the ground, of course.

It’s about buttocks.

Frankly, the seating at both the Coast Conference Centre and the Oasis Church theatres are much better than at the Sagebrush.

Chairs at neither the hotel’s theatre nor the church are as expensive as the Sagebrush but their roominess is a welcome blessing.

Sitting at the Sagebrush is like cramming yourself into an Economy class jet plane. The ordeal begins when you have to cross over in front of somebody. They have to stand; you have to stretch your legs delicately past them, trying not to step on their feet.

Once ensconced, your knees are locked in place for the duration with no chance to stretch. During the break, the ritual of removing yourself from the sardine repeats the exercise.

In short, seating at the Sagebrush is gawdawful. It was, after all, originally intended to cram several hundred students into high school assemblies.

Having attended both Western Canada Theatre’s Buddy Holly production at the Coast facility, and the Kamloops Symphony’s concert at the Oasis, I can report that in comparison to the Sagebrush, in both cases it was a treat.

In both the hotel and the pew seating at the church, there’s more than adequate legroom to get comfortable. It’s like travelling First Class compared to the Yoga-like contortions you have to perform at the Sagebrush.

So, no rush in getting repairs done at the Sagebrush. And to those lobbying for a new performing arts centre, please don’t try to cram too much seating into it at the expense of comfort.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8669 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Getting behind better seating at performing arts venues

  1. Let’s get on with this long overdue project . Some great suggestions for design above.

  2. Alexander Forrest // March 14, 2019 at 3:34 PM // Reply

    And what about the massive difference in the sound of the orchestra? Without a fly gallery above their heads eating up 90% of the sound, suddenly I could hear the harp. Probably the first time ever at a KSO concert I could hear the harp! If the new performing arts centre goes ahead, one of the performance spaces needs to be re-designed from Mr. Fawcet’s current (very generous) proposal to be optimized for music performances instead of all being optimized for theatre productions.
    Along with propper seating, of course. ;^)

  3. Kathy McArthur // March 14, 2019 at 2:29 PM // Reply

    We SENIORS AT RIVERBEND/MAYFAIR have some suggestions for the new Performing Arts Centre that is greatly needed for Kamloops and hopefully would work in the proposed PAC as started and presented by the Fawcetts.

    1. Build into the ground
    a) Stage built below ground level, with entrance Lobby, Box office and services built on ground level.
    b) Parking underground below seat levels with a minimum of two levels. Offer parking underground to ticket holders for a nominal fee, especially season ticket holders. Tickets could be printed with bar codes to allow parking entrance.

    2. No stairs in seating areas
    a) Graded concert-bowl seating with aisles that gently slope for safety of all.
    b) Elevators to balcony level from lowest level of parking lot to top floor, P1, P2, (etc.,) Main, Balcony. When the balcony is not in use, lock off that exit. Otherwise, have attendants with hand held ticket scanners at the balcony elevator exit.

    3. Concession
    a) Plan a bar area for beer/wine (adult)
    b) Plan a separate coffee bar (family) with chairs in the lobby for those who come early and for intermission.

    4. Loading/unloading
    Because traveling shows come packed in travel trailers, plan lane, alley, angles so large rucks can back into a convenient loading area.

    Best wishes on building a PAC to accommodate music, theatre, dance and art integrated with light and colour.

    Donna Dubo & Kathy McArthur
    on behalf of RiverBend & Mayfair patrons

  4. I totally agree, Mel! Along with great acoustics, exemplary seating is high on my list of requirements for any new facility. I have been seated in many a new hall where it is tight and many an old hall where it is, as you mention, like Air Transat or Thomas Cook seating. The older halls I understand because people are bigger now but the discomfort of newer halls speaks of unimaginative design and thoughtlessness.

  5. Dawne Taylor // March 14, 2019 at 10:30 AM // Reply

    The Coast Canadian may provide more leg room, but for short people the chairs cut in the back at an awkward angle, making it quite uncomfortable to sit for any length of time. We all have different needs. How long will it take for the community to finally get on board with a new PAC?
    Why spend the money fixing Sagebrush when we desperately need a new centre?

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