Canadian orchestra is forced out of its hall

Media release from Victoria, British Columbia:

After decades of performances at its home base at the Royal Theatre, the Victoria Symphony has announced that it is being forced out of the Theatre due to exorbitant rental increases and curtailed access to booking dates.

Recent changes to rental fees and newly created priority scheduling policies and procedures developed by the Board of the Royal Theatre have created an untenable situation for the Victoria Symphony. ‘With the new policy our rent
will increase by 100%, and combined with significantly reduced access to available dates in the Theatre
we can no longer continue to offer our series of concerts,’ says says Chairman Alan Hollingworth.

The Symphony will pull out half of its season offerings from the Royal and take them to the cFarquhar Auditorium at the University of Victoria.


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  • This sucks. We had a somewhat similar situation years ago, when the performing arts center that was our home started booting us out for weeks on end (6-week runs of Phantom, Lion King, what have you) that really messed with our attendance and season renewals. I never heard about rising rents, but if it hadn’t happened yet, then it was only a matter of time — it was becoming clear they just didn’t want us there.

    Having our own theater is an expensive burden, but it gives us the freedom to choose our dates and stick to them.

  • The Royal is a nice old theatre, but the acoustics have never been great despite repeated attempts to fix them. The Farquhar is a better (and more comfortable) venue, but it seats only 70% of what the Royal does.

      • Hi, Nancy. I thought that it might be helpful for you to know that the Royal Theatre is run by a non-profit, not greedy business people. The changes to the agreement with the Symphony has as much to do with lengthy periods where they (and a couple of other users) would occupy the theatre without performing. In some cases, these were understandably rehearsals, move in dates, technical dates, etc. But in many cases, it was a business decision on the part of the performing arts group (Symphony, Pacific Opera…) to leave long empty nights so that they could perform mostly on weekends. Previous rental rates for occupying those dark nights were in the range of $500-$800. The theatre society determined that this wasn’t the best use of this resource for the region, other arts groups seeking access, and patrons in general.

  • There is something special about symphony concerts taking place on a campus. It removes a commercial aspect to music.

  • The Royal is a nice old theatre, but its acoustics have never been that good, despite repeated attempts to improve them (a new shell for the stage helped a lot, however, back in the 80s). Farquhar is much better, but it seats only 70% of the Royal, which I imagine will be a problem.

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