New management takes centre stage

Harbour City Theatre Alliance will ink a deal with City of Nanaimo to manage Nanaimo Centre Stage for the next three years.

New management is taking over Nanaimo Centre Stage.

Nanaimo city council agreed to ink a three-year deal with the Harbour City Theatre Alliance – an organization that hopes to start management of Nanaimo Centre Stage July 1.

It’s a day after the planned exit of former operators, Centre for the Arts Nanaimo. The organization announced last April it would bow out of the operation of the 100-seat venue by the end of June, stating it could no longer oversee the building for the $11,350 annual subsidy offered by the city. It had asked for $40,000 in 2014.

The new alliance – a six-member board of arts supporters – is confident it can work within the city’s framework and still be affordable for user groups.

It plans to generate revenue by producing its own shows and will operate the building through a volunteer board rather than paid staff.

“I have an awful lot of confidence in the Harbour City Theatre Alliance,” said Coun. Diane Brennan, who points out it knows the building and understands the business. “I’m glad the [group] has taken us up on our request for someone to come and manage this building on.”

Theatre alliance founders Dean Chadwick and Barbra French, both artistic directors of local production companies, say they are looking to make changes to the community theatre, including offering mentorship to those aspiring to create their own productions, classes and concerts there.

“We are looking to have the place busy as many nights of the year as possible,” Chadwick said.“Nanaimo Centre Stage is going to become a place where people come in more than once or twice a year.”

The move to hire the new managers was made in a 6-3 vote with councillors Bill McKay, Jim Kipp and Bill Bestwick opposed. The alliance has yet to sign the new agreement but has begun to create a new season schedule.