In a press conference at the Stanley Theatre last Tuesday (April 5), John Gill, president of Industrial Alliance Pacific Life Insurance Company, announced that his firm is donating $1.5 million to the Stanley Theatre Society. In recognition of this support, which is the most generous in the history of the Arts Club Theatre Company, the organization will rename its flagship house the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage for the next 20 years.
Harley Harris, president of the Stanley Theatre Society, explained that the purchase and conversion of the Stanley, which opened as a cinema in 1930 and reopened as a live-theatre venue in 1998, was originally budgeted at $7.5 million, but eventually cost approximately $9 million. The society has been carrying a mortgage in excess of $2 million, and the imposition of federal regulations limiting tobacco advertising resulted in the withdrawal of duMaurier Arts, which had been the main source of corporate funds for the Arts Club's initiatives at the Stanley.
In her remarks, Donna Celle, president of the Arts Club's board of directors, noted that corporate sponsorship is becoming increasingly important to arts organizations across the country. Gill referred to the central role the arts play in creating and sustaining Vancouver's "quality of life" and "economic well-being". Bill Millerd, the Arts Club's artistic director, described his sense of celebration as "incredible".