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ACT Board cautious about reopening the arts centre in Maple Ridge

Half a million dollars lost in revenue due to COVID-19 pandemic
Plans are underway for the reopening of the ACT Arts Centre in Maple Ridge. (THE NEWS-files)

The spring is one of the busiest times for the ACT Arts Centre in Maple Ridge.

Not only would there be live theatre and musical performances, the facility is also a rental venue for community recitals, shows, dance competitions and other community events and activities.

However, after having to close its doors on March 16, because of the COVID-19 crisis, executive director Curtis Pendleton, estimates that they have suffered close to half a million dollars in lost, unrecoverable earned revenue as a result.

And, in addition to the losses, the facility currently has no significant revenue coming in.

Core business operations are being sustained with money received from several grants that the centre received from municipal, provincial and federal programs, said Pendleton, along with emergency funding to the arts sector.

There are also several long-term sponsors that Pendleton is grateful to who have continued their support throughout the pandemic.

“We were disappointed not to be able to share the last eight shows of the season, the many community shows, the scheduled gallery exhibitions and our many arts learning programs since our closure,” said Pendleton, adding that it was devastating to all live arts performers with scheduled shows.

Refunds, she noted, were offered for all of the cancelled shows, but almost 80 per cent of ticket holders chose to give back the value of their tickets as a donation to the centre.

“This is an extraordinarily high number compared to other similar organizations we know of, and shows how much people love and support The ACT,” said Pendleton.

Now they are making plans to reopen and Pendleton is cautiously optimistic.

Pendleton, along with the board of directors, are monitoring the financial position of the arts centre closely and they have been looking at options for the best way to reopen.

Currently they are hoping for more clarity surrounding Premier John Horgan’s announcement on May 6 about the province’s gradual reopening plan, before making any announcements themselves.

Horgan gave mid-May as a timeline to start phase two of the province’s restart plan to allow for more social and economic activity.

Restrictions will be lifted to allow – people to attend small social gatherings, the resumption of elective surgeries and regulated health services like physiotherapy, dentistry, chiropractors and in-person counselling, the reopening of provincial parks for day use and the reopening of non-essential businesses with safe operation plans.

Virtual learning classes are being offered for children at the arts centre, and, Pendleton said, they are looking at offering the same for adults if the desire is there.

She anticipates that these virtual classes may be a permanent part of their programming going forward.

Pendleton notes there will be many challenges to the ACT’s reopening, but, she is confident that the facility will continue to be the “heart of arts” in the community.

“People have been making art since the beginning of humanity. It is part of what defines us as humans. This will never stop,” said Pendleton.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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