God of Carnage busts Vancouver Civic Theatres’ operating budget
Vancouver Civic Theatres’ operating budget has been dealt a blow after ticket sales for Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s God of Carnage, which runs at the Playhouse Theatre until Saturday (May 5), failed to meet its target.
Vancouver Civic Theatres stepped in to present the play after the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company folded in the face of insurmountable debt.
When the arrangement was first announced in March, Civic Theatres director Rae Ackerman said an average attendance of 65 percent capacity would be required to break even. But by April 29, he was admitting defeat.
“It’s doing about $3,000 a day now. We’d need to be more than double that [to break even],” he said. Ackerman would not disclose the amount of loss on the production but admitted that even if the last week of performances sold out, it would not be enough to mitigate the damage.
“This is a situation that was fraught with obstacles,” he said. “The Playhouse Theatre Company closed its door, everybody knew about it, and people confused it with the theatre itself closing.…Then you get the potential audience who may have been gearing up in a normal way, getting exposure to the ads for the show, suddenly that stops [when the VPTC shut down]. Now there’s a vacuum. Then we start up again and people are looking the other way.”
Ackerman insisted he was optimistic that the costs of mounting the poorly attended show could be absorbed. “We hope that we get other shows into the theatres that make up the difference, and it’s early in the year yet,” he said. “And so far, on the year to date, we’re ahead of budget—not hugely, but we’re ahead of budget.”
The city is in the midst of a strategic review of Civic Theatres and Ackerman said a preliminary internal report will be completed in July, at which point the Playhouse Theatre’s future will become more certain.
“Clearly the future and highest and best use of the theatre is certainly on the table for strategizing in a new strategic plan,” he noted. “We’ll see what the contents are and begin to do some serious planning following from that.”