DEMMIT, ALTA. – The stage at the Demmit Hall has been silent for almost two years, but the show will go on with Alberta’ss Restrictions Exemption Program (REP).

“Our last concert was Valentine’s Day 2020,” said Rena Southwell, Borderline Cultural Foundation president.

The pandemic halted performances at the hall, which is a venue for Borderline’s concert series. But come November 13th, music will fill the hall again as T. Buckley hits the stage.

“With everything being so dormant for so long, you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Southwell. She wonders if financial sponsors and patrons will return after being away for so long.

The volunteers of Borderline are working tirelessly to ensure the show can go on, said Southwell; running the website, booking bands, operating the ticket booth … all the while keeping up to date on all the restrictions.

Borderline concerts usually feature talent from across the country so making bookings is difficult as requirements across the provinces vary; compounding the logistics are that restrictions can come unexpectedly at any time.

The decision to begin hosting concerts wasn’t an easy one, said Southwell.

To that end, the Demmit Cultural Society Board opted to employ the REP. Patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test.

Withouht the REP, only 30 per cent of capacity — approximately 100 people – would be permitted. As well, proper social distancing protocol would be in place.

Teresa Von Tiesenhausen, board director, said that without the REP, less than 100 patrons may have been allowed due to spacing requirements.

The concerts are volunteer-run; some are worried about public reaction to implementing the REP.

“We’re really hoping that we get the support of the community and that people just understand this isn’t a place to come in and have a standoff,” said Southwell.

As per usual, each concert will offer a bar and a bus service from Grande Prairie. Bus riders will be required to wear their masks.

Meanwhile, hall finances also took another pandemic-related hit with the cancellation of weddings and other special events, said Von Tiesenhausen.

The hall had to implement the REP on weddings when the program came into play, said Von Tiesenhausen. This caused some wedding parties to cancel.

She said that the hall has seen some help from the County of Grande Prairie. Typically county funds are dependent on the hall having liability insurance but in 2020 this condition was waived since the hall wasn’t open. Since insurance costs are significant this helped, said Von Tiesenhausen. Borderline Culture Foundation received $2,000 for its concert series, and the Demmit Hall $4,640 for operating expenses from the county in May 2020.

“We’re just hoping that next year is fully booked again from May till September for weddings,” said Von Tiesenhausen.

For now, Borderline will see how their first concert since Feburaury 2020 will go and hope to see many happy faces, even if they are masked, on November 13th.

Tickets and more information on the concert can be found at https://www.borderlineculture.com.