Collingwood Council has given the green light to the creation of a pilot project to begin in January to establish a two-year partnership between the Town and the Simcoe Street Theatre.
A key component of the mandate of the Town’s department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture is to promote and provide resources to support Collingwood’s Arts and Culture community. The department was recently given an opportunity to assume management of the 100 seat Simcoe Street Theatre with adjoining by a gallery space/lobby area.
The Simcoe Street Theatre is already another success story thanks to Richard and Anke Lex and their tireless work in creating the town’s arts and culture district along Simcoe Street between Ste. Marie and St. Paul Streets. It is well equipped to host a variety of functions.
At present, Parks, Recreation and Culture rents various spaces throughout the town to deliver arts and performance programming. While the department has been successful in meeting its goals, a Town-operated visual and performing arts facility would greatly assist the department in streamlining its programming.
A staff report to council stated that the Town will not be in a position to construct or acquire a facility for quite some time. This pilot project will allow for a manageable and relatively risk-free entrée into consistent public program of a performing arts space that will inform the longer term plan for arts and culture in our community.
Twenty thousand dollars (plus HST) per year has been identified as transferable within the Town’s existing Culture and Events budget for the purpose of this pilot project. This will result in no change to the existing base budget for 2018 as a result of this report.
Revenue potential exists as a result of a split on rental revenues related to the partnership described in this report. For 2018, the revenue potential is identified as ten thousand dollars based on past rental performance and maintaining basic expectations for future revenues.
Councillor Deb Doherty said that she thinks the partnership represents a great opportunity for the Town to enter in to what is essentially a public-private partnership. “It allows us to increase our capacity to host cultural events at very little cost to the taxpayer. “
Councillor Kathy Jeffery also thought the proposed partnership was good for the Town but had one concern. “I know that it is an inexpensive way to get in in terms of the lease amount but in terms of the staffing and things that are going to go with it, is that going to impact us? I know in the past we have been impacted by our own success. I just want to know that when we say there is no impact on the 2018 budget that it also means that we have the staffing resources.”
Dean Collver, Director of Parks, Recreation & Culture addressed Jeffery’s concern by saying that staffing was the number one consideration when partnership talks began. “Within our staffing group, we wanted to ensure that we had the existing capacity. We are shifting programs, we are not actually adding at this point so we are able to handle this within our existing capacities. It also was doable because we were able to take a look at what we currently do in terms of renting space for example. We had that capacity built in.”
Collver said since the capacity is built in to this agreement, adding another piece of inventory would not change anything.
“We have been able to work out with the Lex’s how we will go about maintaining the space. That also fits within our core competencies and our capacity to do so. At this point I see no changes at all to the staffing burdens, but also we have a pilot in front of us that has been identified by both parties so that we know that if in a year-and-a-half if we are facing significant challenges we have the option to change direction if that is what is needed.”
Councillor Bob Madigan says the partnership gives Collingwood the opportunity now to have a one hundred seat theatre that the town hasn’t had before.
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