Raising the bar on safety

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September 11, 2014 2:49 PM

Vic Juba enjoys the new hand hold assist that were installed in the Vic Juba Community Theatre last week. After years of demonstrating a variety of prototypes, this style of support gives extra security without disrupting the view to the stage. - Jon Clarke Photo

It took longer than they would have wanted, but safety rails have finally been installed in Vic Juba Community Theatre. It was for the past five years that Vic Juba, board director of the theatre, had been working for guide rails to be installed, not only to provided support as a safety measure, but to look good without disrupting attendees’ views to the stage.

“If you guys Google it and try and find out what’s out there, you won’t find a lot,” said Marc Quinn, general manager for the theatre, on how scarce handrails in theatres actually are. So, these new handrails had to be designed from the ground up.

The first prototype for the hand hold assists was made of wood, but the design has come a long way since then, as five prototypes in total were produced before the theatre settled on a final design. The fourth prototype was even installed, then tested and critiqued by patrons before the fifth and final design was rolled out and installed permanently.

The hand hold assists are made of metal, black, with a dusted coating for extra grip.

Installed beside each row of seats, there are now 34 hand rails, with 17 on each outside aisle.

“I can imagine as we’re watching audiences leave, that many of them will be gripping those rails just to make sure they’re balanced,” said Quinn.

The idea of the hand hold assists came about due to safety concerns for guests who have mobility issues. Two women had fallen in the past, and while no serious injuries were sustained, it was these kinds of events that prompted Juba and the rest of the staff at the theatre to take steps in making the isles safer.

“If there’s one rushing, it can cause people to stumble, fall, just be off balance, and having that railing there is a really good safety feature,” said Quinn.

It was due to these safety concerns that Juba decided that this project needed to happen.

“We decided that this is something we’ve got to do no matter what the cost,” said Juba.

And as the project turned out, it didn’t cost the theatre a penny.

Every cost associated with the safety rails was covered by donors, including the manufacturing firm and the designer, who also donated funds toward the completion of the project.

With a total cost of the project in excess of $10,000, not a cent was paid by Vic Juba Community Theatre. To boot, all manufacturing and design work was sourced from Lloydminster itself. Even the materials used were produced in locally, making the guide rails a truly home-grown accessory to the Theatre.

The safety rails were installed just recently, and will see their first public use during A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline this Thursday, Sept. 11, at 7:30 p.m

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