City Council approves contract to redevelop the James Cowan Theatre and Studios Wing

Last updated: February 28, 2024

Burnaby City Council has approved a contract to replace the James Cowan Theatre at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts with an exciting new theatre and specialized program space suitable for a variety of events and activities.  

“This is a great opportunity to upgrade the James Cowan Theatre so that it can continue to play an important role in the vibrant arts, cultural and community space that exists at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts,” said Mayor Mike Hurley.  

The existing theatre was built as a gymnasium in the 1940s and converted into a theatre in 1995. The building is long past its useful life, is not wheelchair accessible or earthquake compliant and requires significant upgrades.

The redevelopment project will create a new 38,000 sq. ft. (3,500 sq m.) theatre and studios wing for the Shadbolt Centre on the same site as the current James Cowan Theatre. 

Features include:

  • 364-seat theatre with retractable seating convertible to a large reception/atrium hall 
  • professional stage, lighting and audio equipment
  • 3 classroom studios: visual arts, multi-use and theatre/literary arts
  • reception/atrium hall
  • gender neutral and universal washrooms 
  • Encores Café and bar
  • improved accessibility and entrance location

It will be a versatile facility, with a theatre with flexible floor space and studios that can be set up for a variety of purposes. Uses may include multimedia, traditional and contemporary theatre, cultural performances, large events and celebrations, trade shows and conferences. 
Shadbolt Centre will continue to be open to the public throughout the construction project.

The estimated cost of the project is $55 million. Construction is expected to begin in 2024, with the new facility to open to the public in 2027.

Learn more: James Cowan Theatre Redevelopment

Was this page useful?