Oliver’s Venable Theatre. (Venables Theatre Facebook)

Oliver’s Venable Theatre. (Venables Theatre Facebook)

South Okanagan town council to consider COVID funds for theatre

Oliver’s council will debate the request for assistance on March 22

Oliver town council will debate whether to provide $32,000 in COVID funds to Venables Theatre on Monday, March 22.

Council will be deciding whether to authorize the funds in full, in part with the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) providing a share or not direct to the COVID-19 Restart Funds.

Two of the options call on the RDOS to provide its proportionate share of funding to the theatre, either with the town paying only its share of 58 per cent or $18,600 or the town paying the full $32,000 and the RDOS portion going on top of that.

As of December 2020, the town had a COVID Restart Reserve of $965,000, with the 2021 budget expected to reduce that to $900,000.

Over 2020, the theatre used the wage subsidy program to cover paying staff, and reduced marketing, cleaning, utilities and equipment costs due to the closure.

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The theatre does have $70,000 in reserves, including $30,000 for a capital project reserve, with expected expenses for the year totalling $145,090.

With the theatre unable to open, it is currently budgeting for an expected income for the year of $129,000, including $112,500 in yearly grants from the RDOS and Town of Oliver.

Renting the theatre to businesses and groups from Oliver makes up over 50 per cent of the theatre’s rental revenue. During normal years, rentals for locals are done at a reduced rate when the theatre can hold events.

“What would be most beneficial to us would be an incentive for the locals to return to renting the theatre when it is deemed safe to do so,” reads a quote from theatre general manager Leah Foreman in the report to council. “We are going to need to rebuild our rental base and reduce the risk of losing them as clients.”

The restart funds would go towards allowing the theatre to continue to provide a reduced rate to encourage local business, as well as to technician costs.

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