One way or another, the community will be paying a higher cost for local theatrical and musical productions at Prince Charles Theatre.
A 50 per cent increase in the daily (4-hour) rental will have to be covered by increased ticket prices or a subsidy from Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) local areas, said Creston Community Auditorium Society chair Joanna Wilson.
“We weren’t consulted at all about the increases,” she said.
The current charge for local entertainment events is $100 per day and will rise to $150. For Footlighters Theatre Society, that means a $400 jump in rent for a typical musical production, which includes rehearsal time.
“We understand that the school needs to recover costs,” said Footlighters president Brian Lawrence. “But the increase certainly makes it a challenge to create a balanced budget for larger shows that require more time in the theatre. Our board already decided to increase ticket prices for our upcoming production of Beauty and the Beast, and due to the added cost, we will be considering a further increase.
“One of our goals is to provide quality theatre accessible to all ages, and increased costs mean that some may miss out.”
The auditorium was constructed as part of the new school after Prince Charles Secondary School burned to the ground in 1980. A large fundraising effort by the community helped pay the costs of construction. While it is owned and operated by School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake), the auditorium society has raised funds for improvements since the facility was constructed, including the purchase and installation of new seats last year.
A pricing structure, intended to keep costs down for local performers, has never benefitted the Creston Concert Society, said spokesperson Margaret Lavender.
“The increase doesn’t make a huge difference to us because we were paying a slightly higher rate already, even though we are a non-profit society.”
Several years ago, the Town of Creston began contributing $5,000 a year to subsidize rental costs for local organizations (while the auditorium is available for touring productions, it has rarely been used for such purposes).
Lavender said the Creston Concert Society has been treated well by the school district, particularly under the management of PCSS staff.
“PCSS has treated us fairly with everything we need,” she said. “We can’t really jump up and down about it.”
She added that all local users would benefit if the RDCK area directors help with a subsidy.
“The RDCK should get on board, and I hope that they will.”
A motion passed at the June 28 town council meeting by Wilson, who is also a town councillor, directed Mayor Ron Toyota to take the request for an additional subsidy to the Creston Valley Services Committee, which includes RDCK areas A, B and C.