The city and Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Arts Council have signed a three-year operating and lease agreement for the ACT Arts Centre.
The arts council has had operating and lease agreements to provide programs and performances at the ACT for 17 years, and the last agreement expired at the end of 2020. During negotiations the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and the council reduced its staff and programs.
“Over the past year, council and the society [Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Arts Council] have heard concerns from the community regarding the temporary direction taken by the arts council to support sustainable operations as a result of the COVID pandemic,” Scott Hartman, general manager of parks, recreation and culture told council. “Specifically the changes made to the operating model of the art gallery, which is heavily subsidized by The ACT’s other revenue streams such as performances, which have not been able to take place since March 2020, due to the public health orders.”
The gallery has been open for public shows on a limited, registered basis.
Hartman said the society anticipates a gradual recovery, aimed at reinstating gallery services in a phased approach, and “ramping up to a return to pre-covid scope in 2022.”
Before the pandemic, the ACT was providing community events, programs, and performances to 80,000 patrons annually. Support from those patrons was shown when 80 per cent of ticket holders, when offered refunds for cancelled shows, donated the value back to the centre.
Hartman said the arts council has provided leadership in the cultural sector, and demonstrated its ability to manage The ACT and provide high-calibre cultural programs and services, so staff recommended approval of a new agreement.
The city will provide the arts council with an annual operating grant of $788,000 in the first year, $802,000 in the second and $816,000 in year three.
The agreement will also see the council pay the city $80,000 per year in rent for The ACT.
Hartman noted the city provides approximately one-third of the ACT’s total funding, which includes funds from senior government and donors.
“It has certainly been a very challenging year and a half for everyone,” said Coun. Judy Dueck, adding the “main message” is that the city has listened to resident’s concerns.
“Hopefully we’ll get to be going to the ACT in some months to come,” added Mayor Mike Morden.
The ACT is offering arts learning programs, with summer registration beginning June 15.
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