The Port Theatre Nanaimo

The Port Theatre, 125 Front St., Nanaimo, held its annual general meeting last night. It was interesting to meet the people who set policy for the theatre, to peruse the financial statement, and to hear about the theatre’s plans. Built between 1996 and 1998, The Port Theatre has a total seating capacity of 804. Plans are underway to build a new Studio Theatre with 90 to 150 seats onto the side of the present building over the next three years.

In 2007 the theatre spent $1,536,961, half of it on wages and benefits for the 106 full and part time employees. Over a third of the theatre’s revenue was a direct subsidy from taxpayers in Nanaimo and the region. The City of Nanaimo contributed $414,160 for operating expenses and another $100,000 for the city assets fund. In addition, Lantzville and the Regional District of Nanaimo put in $74,160 for operations. Considering that Nanaimo’s total population in 2006 was 78,692, that’s around $7.50 a head.

Some 91,209 persons attended Port Theatre events last year. That averages out to about 7,600 a month, suggesting that only a small minority of Nanaimo residents are using the theatre regularly. Ticket prices are an obvious reason as admission costs anywhere from $28 to $46, plus a $1 order fee, with reductions for students and the 2,088 Port Theatre Society members. Discounts or deals of the kind offered by the Chemainus Theatre and the Nanaimo Theatre Group are not available here, but the theatre did supply 2,386 free tickets to social service agencies last year.

As the leading performing arts centre in the region, The Port Theatre has fulfilled its mandate of bringing artistic excellence to Nanaimo. The theatre estimates that it generates $6 million in economic benefits for our community. Beginning on Sunday, September 14, 2008, The Port Theatre will be hosting a week-long celebration to mark its 10th anniversary. An open house and celebrity performances are on the program. Details will be posted on this blog as they come in.

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