With theatres and performing arts facilities still dark under provincial health orders, working on a new way of developing and funding current and future facilities in the Capital Region might seem ill-timed.
Nonetheless, the Capital Regional District continues to work towards the creation of a regional performing arts facilities service designed to help plan, develop and fund such venues. The CRD’s governance committee this week approved the formation of a select committee that will define the scope and functions of a regional service, and make recommendations on that to the CRD board by the end of 2021.
“I look forward to the work of consulting with everyone about what a regional arts facilities service should look like, and am optimistic we will find consensus for a path forward that helps ensure sustainable futures for these important pieces of cultural infrastructure,” said board chair Colin Plant.
A few CRD directors have voiced little enthusiasm for such a service, including those from Langford, whose hopes for building a performing arts venue of its own took a hit recently with the loss of the Maritime Museum of B.C. as a major tenant. Langford directors told the board last month their municipality would likely not support formation of another body to oversee work they’re already doing in their community.
The operations of the Royal Theatre and McPherson Playhouse are funded partially through the CRD and initial discussions indicate these two large regional venues would fall under the auspices of a new service. Other facilities, such as the Mary Winspear Centre, have been also mentioned as potential beneficiaries.
“The tricky part of discussions like this always is finding a model that is seen to be fair,” said Oak Bay mayor and CRD governance committee chair Kevin Murdoch. “People don’t want to pay for something they don’t think they’d use. But the current model doesn’t allow us to support new regional facilities.”
Plant said he hopes directors who served on the select committee that produced the report, Stage One: A Public Conversation about Performing Arts Facilities in the CRD, will put their names forward for the new committee.
Planning together to create a healthy arts ecosystem in the region is critical, Plant said. “I believe all jurisdictions in the CRD can, and will benefit from this work.”
The governance committee recommendation is slated for discussion and a vote at the full board meeting on April 14.