The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Let’s talk about homelessness December 10, 2008

Filed under: Business of Arts,Politics of Arts — Rebecca Coleman @ 4:06 am
Tags: , ,

Today, at 1 pm, Peter Fairchild, Chair of the Pantages Theatre Arts Society, accompanied by Santa and some elves, had an early Christmas gift for our new Mayor, Gregor Robertson. They presented Robertson and members of city council with a three-inch-thick bound book of letters of support (about 35o, apparently) for the Pantages Theatre.

Gregor Robertson gets an early Christmas gift.

Gregor Robertson gets an early Christmas gift.

The Pantages is a 100-year old theatre located on Hastings Street in the downtown east side. Three years ago, it was bought by a developer, Marc Williams. His plan was to gut and restore the 650-seat theatre, create a 99-seat black-box theatre/rehearsal space, an art gallery, new lobbies, and new elevators. Included in the $26 Million restoration plan was over 100 units of social housing.

One of our new Mayor’s big plans is to eliminate homelessness in Vancouver by 2015. Anyone who lives in this city knows that homelessness is a big problem. And while we are not saying that this will eliminate homelessness, it sure is a start.

The presentation today was also attended by several members of the PTAS, notably Dr. Charles Barber (as Santa), Adam Abrams (the elf) and Tony Pantages. Yes, that Tony Pantages.

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Gregor Robertson engages in a photo op with Santa and an elf.

Peter Fairchild appeals to the Mayor.

Peter Fairchild appeals to the Mayor.

There is another group of people that face homelessness if the Pantages does not recieive the permits and funding that it needs to continue, and that is the three resident companies that are meant to occupy the Pantages when it is finished. Those companies are City Opera of Vancouver, Vancouver Cantonese Theatre, and Vancouver Moving Theatre.

My experience of being a theatre in this city has taught me that it is difficult to find affordable production spaces in Vancouver to produce plays. Having another, under 100-seat black box theatre would be a big help to our small, independent theatre companies.

So let’s get talking about ending homelessness, Mr. Mayor!

Check out Adam Abram’s account of the afternoon here (he’s the elf)

Mike McCardle’s story on Global TV.

Flickr photostream:

Mine

Adam’s

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Pantages Update December 8, 2008

In October, it was announced that the future of the Pantages Theatre was in jeopardy. After more than three years of trying to negotiate a deal with the city of Vancouver, owner Marc Williams gave up and put the property up for sale.

This prompted a flurry of emails and petitions headed in the direction of City Hall.

Pantages Stage

Pantages Stage

I also sent a letter to City Hall, and received a response from them accordingly.

The response from City Hall was, in my estimation, very confusing and difficult to understand, but from what I could figure out, the issues were these:

1. The Pantages is asking for $30-40 Million for the restoration, not the $10 Million that was promised them by the city
2. The Pantages needs to seek funding at a Provincial and Federal level, and they have not done that.
3.The City claims that the Pantages has never submitted a formal development application.
4. The City cannot proceed before there is a formal assessment completed, to which they have dedicated $150,000. This will not be complete until the end of March, 2009.

I spoke with a member of the Pantages Theatre Society, and they had this to say about the City’s four points:

1. The Pantages has never asked the City for money. What they are asking for is density transfers. What that means is, the city allows the developer to build buildings that are higher than would normally be allowed.
2. Because the Pantages is such a local landmark, there is little chance of Ottawa being interested in helping to fund its restoration. There is some possibility that the Province will kick in.
3. Pantages submitted a development application on December 3, 2007. That application was rejected by the city on June 2, 2008.
4. Time is a big issue. For every month the Pantages sits, and every month that the development is not starting, it costs the developer more than $30,000. After more than three years of this, he has decided to cut his losses, and try to sell the property to get some of his money back.

There is a ray of hope. While negotiations had broken off, which prompted Williams to put the property up for sale, since the municipal election, it is my understanding that negotiations have resumed. The property, however, is still up for sale.

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