A prized collection of stage props that once belonged to the now-defunct Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company has been saved.
The extensive collection has long been a valued resource for many local theatre groups who borrowed items from the Playhouse on generous terms to stage productions.
After the Playhouse was forced to close in March because of an unsustainable debt load of nearly $1 million, fears arose that the prop collection might be broken up and sold off.
However, an agreement has been reached by several parties to preserve the collection and to again make the items available for rental.
The props have been acquired by Renegade Arts Society, a recently established nonprofit group based on the same premises near East 2nd Avenue and Main Street where the collection is housed.
“It’s really, really a great honour to be able to rent those props out again to theatre and…film and other business in Vancouver and keep it intact,” society director Jim Buckshon told the Straight.
Renegade Arts Society grew out of Renegade Productions, a Vancouver company that provides recording facilities, rehearsal space, management, and other services to musicians.
The deal to preserve the collection was reached by the Playhouse, Renegade Productions, Great Northern Way Scene Shop, and Beedie Development Group, the landlord of the property where the collection is stored.
Renegade Arts Society will be able to draw upon the resources of Renegade Productions to help house, manage, and rent out the props.
Buckshon, who is also president of Renegade Productions, said the society will follow the Playhouse’s approach to renting out items. It will offer discount rates to nonprofit theatre groups and retail rates to others.
In a related boost for the local arts community, he also said the available theatre rehearsal space in the East 2nd Avenue location is being expanded.
“Our goal is to provide discounted items and services as best we can to the arts community,” Buckshon said.
The theatre prop collection, amassed over the past five decades, includes items like furniture, works of art, weapons, and household items.
The collection was acquired for an undisclosed amount from Beedie Development Group, which had taken possession of the items from the Playhouse.
It will continue to be stored on the East 2nd Avenue premises, which used to be leased out by the Playhouse. Over the past year, Renegade Productions has expanded its presence on the property and has now taken over the entire space.
The deal to preserve the collection, announced publicly on August 15, has been welcomed by members of the Vancouver theatre community.
“The props collection plays a vital role in mounting a show for many professional and amateur companies,” Max Reimer, former artistic director of the Playhouse, said in a statement.
“This is terrific news for the whole of the Vancouver theatre community,” he said.
Nathan Medd, Electric Theatre Company managing producer, said the collection has been a valued resource for his theatre group and many others.
“Theatre makers are master scavengers and this is one way to pool resources and produce live events in Vancouver in a way that has kept ticket prices down and public access up,” Medd told the Straight.
The props are to be made available to theatre companies again starting in September.