Roxy Theatre owner argues public funding for school theatre is unfair competition for the Revelstoke landmark.

RPAC public subsidies, alcohol sales hurt Roxy Theatre

Roxy Theatre owner Carl Rankin says city and school board subsidies of public theatre are hurting his tax-paying business.

Editor,

After reading about plans to allow alcohol at the RSS theatre (School board votes to allow alcohol at theatre, News, Sept. 18.), I felt compelled to respond with my own headline: Other than Mauro Marrone, what are you guys thinking about!

I found it quite absurd that the main premise for wanting a limited liquor license, for future events to be held on this publicly-funded school district property, was to attract those events that are now being held at the Roxy Theatre.

What Ms. Manley and our illustrious school board appear to be missing, is the fact that other than last year (2012), The Banff Mountain Film Festival has always been hosted at the Roxy Theatre, every year since 1998 (15 years) when the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour first started. And as far as the recent Comedy Fest held at the Roxy in August, that’s a 19-plus event, and a full range of alcoholic beverages were served throughout the Roxy venue, including our auditorium, for the entire four-hour duration of the performances. An event of that nature is strictly ‘adult only’ oriented and in my opinion, has absolutely no business being held in any public school performing arts centre. Think of the example we set for our children who attend these schools.

To my mind, The Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre (RPAC) was added during final planning, to the design and build out of the new $40 million, provincially-funded, Revelstoke Secondary School (RSS). It was intended to support the City of Revelstoke’s passionate performing arts scene and be a major component of Revelstoke Secondary’s Neighbourhood Learning Centre, combined with the addition of the new $14 Million Begbie View Elementary School, connected to RSS on the same site.

The RPAC was constructed in the middle of RSS and cannot be accessed easily from outside, but rather only through the hallways of RSS. It was originally envisioned to relieve the lack of a professional venue for local plays and concerts and to also provide a venue that could attract touring plays, musicals and concerts, and of course be a venue for many internal RSS and Begbie View student arts curriculum related activities. I was surprised to hear just before the opening of the RPAC that they had also installed a digital projection system and a retractable screen in this facility. I was reassured, that this addition was done to facilitate educational uses.

I had always been supportive of the RPAC concept as, for many years, I had watched our local Revelstoke Theatre Company, the community band, and our community choir struggle to find affordable and adequate facilities for their rehearsals and performances. I was pleased to see the RPAC solve this issue for them. After the RPAC opened, we witnessed the struggle between School District 19 and the Revelstoke Arts Council to work through a mutual agreeable framework for managing the RPAC on an ongoing basis. This resulted in the hiring of an RPAC manager, Miriam Manley, from outside the ranks of School District 19, in September of 2012.

Since that point in time I have watched, in great angst, as more and more digital film events take place at the RPAC which have previously always been held at the Roxy Theatre. I now had to look at the RPAC as being a direct competitor to the Roxy Theatre!

I believe that our RPAC manager should perhaps concentrate more on attracting those events, that better befit the RPAC venue, such as live plays, musicals, concerts, solo artists and other live performance groups who require the larger stage with a full backstage and power curtains, two modern dressing rooms, full lighting and audio assemblies and the many other amenities that have been installed, at great taxpayer expense (including the school taxes paid by the Roxy annually), at the RPAC.

I am relatively certain that the Ministry of Education would be quite disappointed to hear that Revelstoke now has a taxpayer-funded, publically-held institution, which is trying to run as a public business that competes with a struggling downtown private business.

The Roxy Theatre has been a historically revered downtown Revelstoke cultural centre since 1938. After 75 years of serving our community, I have no intention of remaining silent while the RPAC strives to diminish the Roxy’s chances of survival by trying to compete for events that are currently held at the Roxy Theatre.

Another business fact, that I would be quick to point out, is that the revenues obtained by simply renting the RPAC on a nightly basis are a fraction of what could be derived by organizing live events in house, marketing them effectively and selling tickets in advance, and then professionally managing the events. It is certainly a lot more work but the result would be greater revenues for RPAC.

I will be equally astonished to see City of Revelstoke’s mayor and council continue to support this continued attack on an integral downtown Revelstoke business, such as they have by approving a $25,000 Tourism Infrastructure grant on Aug. 27.

Carl Rankin,

Owner, Roxy Theatre,

Revelstoke

 

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