Port Theatre bounces back from deficit with surplus in 2012

NANAIMO - Co-management agreement signed between Port Theatre, city last year proving to be successful.

Access to city resources, scaled back programming and more efficient building operations have allowed the Port Theatre Society to rebound from its first and only deficit in 2011 back into black for its 2012 fiscal year.

After signing a renewed co-management agreement with the city early last year, one that was unanimously voted in favour of by city council, the Port Theatre Society was able to turn its 2011 $114,000 deficit into a $62,672 surplus for 2012.

“We trimmed, we were careful with our spending, we developed a lot of new partnerships, we limited our financial risks in presenting, we presented fewer shows, and made some other partnership deals to share the risks,” said Bruce Halliday, the theatre’s general manager. “It certainly helped.”

The Port Theatre Society released its 2012 financials after its annual general meeting on March 26.

In 2011, the theatre hosted 225 events that drew 91,000 patrons and resulted in tickets sales of $1.59 million. From January to June, however, it lost $95,000 from programming alone. It was the only deficit the theatre has posted since opening in 1999.

That loss resulted in the society asking the city if it could transfer $74,500 from The Port Theatre’s capital funds to its operating budget to balance the year end books.

The city agreed while adding $15,000 in additional management fees and reducing $25,000 in capital funds.

Under the five-year agreement, the city will maintain the envelope of the theatre while the theatre society continues to manage the interior and programming operations.

“We still pay the hydro bill, we still maintain all of the interior, we still raise money for capital upgrades, and we still pay all of the operating costs,” said Halliday.

“Using the city’s resources, like their energy manager for example, helps us operate efficiently now.”

He added the budget is very affected by presenting and how many large acts the society hires, which resulted in an adjustment in programming for 2012. Still, just under 90,000 people attended programming last year.

According to the city’s budget, the Port Theatre Society received a $464,000 management fee and $100,000 in capital toward its $1.9-million budget.