Demand grows for rental subsidies to use Civic Theatres

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      A City of Vancouver program to subsidize the use of its civic theatres has seen about a 20 percent increase in funding requests for the pending 2017-18 season.

      To meet the demand, the Theatre Rental Grant program is going to take money from its net revenues to support 84 additional events at its facilities, which include the Orpheum, The Queen Elizabeth Theatre, the Vancouver Playhouse, and the Annex.

      The move could pay off for the City: it's projected that the increase in the use of the civic theatres could bring 200,000 to 1,000,000 more people into the venues. The City intends to study the effect that upping the subsidized use of its theatres has.

      The move will also allow the addition of more than a dozen new first-time applicants from ethnically diverse backgrounds and grassroots organizations to use the well-equipped professional stages. Amid the new applications are the Golden Panda International Short Film Festival, which fosters new collaborations in film production between China and the West, and the Post Modern Camerata Society, featuring narrative storytelling, Canadiana folk, electronica, and classical music at the Annex. On a larger scale, Music on Main has applied to the Theatre Rental Grant program to host the International Contemporary New Music Festival, in November, in collaboration with the Canadian League of Composers, to host more than 50 countries in a seven-day celebration of ISCM World New Music Days.

      Among the bigger organizations that have long utilized the Theatre Rental Grant program are the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Ballet BC, Vancouver Opera, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, the Vancouver International Dance Festival, and the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. 

      With the extra allocation of funds, the theatre rental grants budget for fall 2017 and spring 2018 will be $2,892,058 for eligible recipients (in noncash grants that provide a partial subsidy towards both theatre-rental and technical costs for cultural nonprofits’ use of Civic Theatres).

      In a report to council, staff recommended similar increases "will be contemplated in future reports pending a review of the outcomes of this one time program increase and the impact on VCT’s 2017 fiscal year results."