Project Description

Victoria, British Columbia, 2014-15

The Royal Theatre and the McPherson Playhouse are two important cultural assets owned by the Capital Regional District and the City of Victoria. The 1416-seat Royal is a classic vaudeville-era theatre that is well suited to music, opera, ballet and other touring productions that can be accommodated within its stage limitations. The 772-seats McPherson is of a similar vintage and is used for ballet, music, opera and spoken word programs. These two heritage assets are managed on behalf of their municipal owners by the Royal & McPherson Theatres Society (RMTS), a not-for-profit corporation established in 1998 whose Board comprises Councilors and elected and appointed citizen representatives.

The Royal and MacPherson Theatres had identified a number of challenges, such as less than desirable use days, new industry competition, municipal funding frozen in 1998, and a compromised capital fund. Janis Barlow’s and Jenny Ginder’s report, presented to the municipal council, lobbied for increased municipal funding in regards to the high level of activity; identified the demographics of the region primary, secondary and tertiary markets; made recommendations around increased audience outreach; and presented possible business and programming models.

The presentation and report were well received by the city council. In December of 2015 the council, considering that only 27% of the McPherson’s audience is Victoria-based, passed a unanimous decision to enter into discussions with the Capital Region District around options for other nearby municipalities to subsidize the McPherson Theatre.