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Audience numbers going up following revamp of Darke Hall

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It has been almost a year since the doors re-opened at Regina’s infamous Darke Hall, and attendance is trending in the right direction.

“Actually in the last couple months we’ve noticed that the audience numbers are going up,” Dawn Bergstrom, manager of Darke Hall explained. “People are becoming more comfortable and they’re also getting to know the fact that we’re here, and that we’re open again.”

The building was under construction for six years, and saw an $84.5 million facelift, according to the University of Regina, but ensured it kept the bones that make it recognizable.

“This is a venue that a lot of people grew up performing in, we took music lessons here, we danced on the stage, we did shows here so it became so much of our childhood,” Bergstrom said.

Darke Hall reopened their doors almost a year ago after renovations. (Brianne Foley / CTV News)

Luke McMaster was set to perform at the hall for the first time Tuesday evening.

“When you see a nice theatre that has maintained some of the original architecture, it’s always really fun and there’s stained glass, there’s original wood still intact and you just instantly get a feel for something,” he said.

McMaster used to be part of McMaster & James, but has since turned solo, pursing Mo-Town music with his Canadian band.

He said just like the venues' blending of old and new, mo-town looks to unite generations through the blending of music.

“It’s where they first started blending jazz, blues, gospel and that is what created pop music, pop music really came out of that…music for everyone, that was Barry Gordie’s mandate when he started mo-town.”

Darke Hall boasts many Saskatchewan acts, and with the upgrades, artists can enjoy the nostalgia of the hall, with state of the art equipment to produce the best quality performances.

“So many of our professional artists that have come out of Saskatchewan actually performed on the Darke Hall stage, so there’s a really strong connection and I think bringing it back really builds that connection again.”

McMaster is from the prairies, but never performed at Darke Hall before. He said when he walked into the venue for the first time it felt like the Apollo, that it has that kind of vibe to it.

“Darke Hall is perfect for what we do, absolutely perfect, we love playing in theatres, we love the fact that we can really connect with an audience.”

Booking shows like McMaster, and Jack Semple, means ticket sales and audiences have been growing for the hall.

“People have been really enthusiastic, and they’ve really enjoyed the experience and we’ve had some amazing artists performing on this stage,” said Bergstrom.

“For a while, we were so used to this building being under construction, that people didn’t know it was open so that word is getting out now, and more and more people are coming.”

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