Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Port Theatre Needs Another $90,000

$454,000.00 Not Enough To Avoid Changes

Mr. Halliday, manager of the Port Theatre asked city council to consider increasing the funding for the Port Theatre by another $90,000.00 to offset what he described as an operating deficit.

The poor financial showing is being blamed on declining ticket sales and higher operational costs. Not unlike the challenges all the business community has been wrestling with in recent years.

It did not seem that Mr. Halliday or the board charged with managing the theatre were considering addressing some of the 'harder' choices that may need to be made such as raising ticket prices or reducing overhead, such as either reducing staff numbers or rolling back staff wage packages. He did not seem to address the issue that some of the 'shows' they are booking are simply poor choices for the local market.

Mr. Halliday also said that the Port Theatre was the only 'presenting' theatre in the province, which I took to mean that they do not only rent space in the theatre but also enter into the arena of putting on events. A practice that other theatres may avoid for good reason, and one perhaps the local theatre may need to learn.

The Port Theatre makes the claim they have not had a deficit in the 14 years they have operated until this last year. Some, might consider they have been running a half million dollar deficit every year they HAVE been operating. How we look at things is sometimes skewed by where we sit.

It seems that the current economic realities are hard for local government run businesses to deal with as the private sector would have to deal. Enterprises 'run' by local government can simply come hat in hand to the public anytime they can't properly run their business. Ever increasing taxes is just another example of how local government can't seem to find the word reduce when it comes to spending YOUR tax dollars.

Perhaps the Port Theatre needs to be viewed more like the arena or swimming pool which also are not in the business of turning a profit and being self sustaining but are funded by the taxpayer as a result of a real or perceived community benefit. Or perhaps the theatre and the convention centre should be offered to the private sector via an expression of interest and for once and for all get city hall out of the business of running business, as clearly it is not something they do well.


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