The Port Theatre has been closed until further notice.
On March 13 the city-owned and co-managed venue announced on its website that the decision was made in response to the direction and recommendations of the federal government and B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
On March 12 Henry and B.C. health minister Adrian Dix directed event organizers to cancel gatherings of more than 250 people to reduce transmission of COVID-19. The Port Theatre seats 804.
“The health and safety of our patrons, artists, volunteers and staff is of the utmost importance. Following the directives set out by the B.C. provincial health officer and the City of Nanaimo, The Port Theatre will be closed for all public events until further notice. Re-evaluation will be ongoing as the situation regarding the impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve,” stated the notice.
The release advises ticket holders to keep their reservations if their event has been postponed. It also stated that refunds will be available for all cancelled events.
“During the closure, we are taking the opportunity to thoroughly clean and disinfect the theatre,” the release said.
Port Theatre general manager Bruce Halliday said he has assured the board and full-time staff that there will be no change to their employment during this period and regular part-time employees will be maintained at full pay for the work they’ve been scheduled for. However, “there will be work loss” for some casual workers.
Halliday said Port Theatre is on “solid footing” at the moment but staff are studying the financial consequences of the closure.
“We’re running financial models to see where this ramps down, where it could get difficult,” he said. “But we are in good, solid shape at the moment to weather us through some weeks, depending on how many weeks that is.”
Halliday said the cost of cancelling an event can be greater for the theatre’s rental clients.
“Our lack of revenue from doing events is partially, and we’re just proving what the percentage is, but partially offset by lack of expenses,” he said. “If you don’t do the event, it doesn’t cost you certain things. So it isn’t all just lost revenue for us.”