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Looking out from the stage. Talkies doom the Walker Despite initial success and high-quality performances


from high profile performers, the advent of film cinema meant that more and more people were going to see these talking movies, or talkies as they were known, and fewer people were going to see live theatre. Te American theatre industry all but collapsed in the 1920s. Walker compensated by bringing in more British entertainment, but the stock market crash of 1929 signalled a death knell for the Walker, which closed in 1933 and it was acquired by the City of Winnipeg in 1936 due to unpaid taxes. Te Odeon cinemas era


From 1936 to 1944 the Walker sat empty, until Henry


Morton purchased it. After a false-roof was installed to cover the top balconies, the newly-named Odeon Teatre played movies for decades until it too closed its doors. Te Odeon Teatre logos are still visible on the exterior of the building.


Te Walker reborn A not-for-profit group called the Walker Teatre Group


for the Performing Arts Inc. purchased the building in 1990. Out went the false roof and in went the original Walker Teatre name, and the venue began seeing live entertain- ment again in 1991. Tat year, the Walker Teatre became a National Historic Site of Canada, and was also named a Grade One Heritage Building by the Province of Manitoba. Te Walker becomes "Te Burt"


Te Burton Cummings Teatre for Performing Arts was named after Burton Cummings in August 2002, a Winni- peg-born performer, and former lead singer of the Guess Who.


thehubwinnipeg.com


The extravagant interior design. Te entrance of True North True North Sports and Entertainment was approached


a few times over the past decade to look after the man- agement of Te Burt by the not-for-profit that owned the Burton Cummings Teatre as well as by the City of Winnipeg. For a number of reasons, TNSE declined. Te first time was because they were new to the entertainment venue business, and had just opened the MTS Centre. Te second time in 2010 was related to the opening of the MTS Iceplex, and a year later, the third time they were asked, well they had just acquired the Winnipeg Jets. With all that activity going on, there was no time to de- vote to Te Burt. In 2014, the timing was finally right and TNSE as- sumed management of the venue through a lease agree- ment. Kevin Donnelly is Senior Vice President, Venues and


Entertainment with TNSE, and explained what it was like to take over the century-old theatre’s management. “We, TNSE, finally felt grounded in our ability to look


after this venue, in addition to the venues we already owned,” said Kevin. “Tere was a seemingly endless list of major and minor immediate repairs that were needed, and we were able to make reasonable improvements as a tenant.”


One of the first things to see improvement was the gen-


eral cleanliness of the building, including bringing the washrooms and concessions to higher standards as well as disposing of old flammable materials in storage. “We imposed a set of priorities in regards to cleaning,” said Kevin. “Te words ‘out of order’ were not acceptable.


Spring 2017 • 17


Photo by Noricum.


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