City transfers McPherson Theatre ownership to CRD

The McPherson Theatre will soon have a new owner.

The McPherson Theatre will soon have a new owner.

The City of Victoria unanimously agreed to transfer ownership of the McPherson Theatre to the Capital Regional District, in an effort to increase the theatre’s funding sources.

According to a report to council, “the McPherson Playhouse is important to art and culture in the city and the region . . . discussions to expand participants to the service are both timely and appropriate given recent events as well as the demonstrable, regional usage of the facility on an ongoing basis.”

The city has owned the McPherson Playhouse since it was donated by the McPherson family in 1963 and is managed by the Royal and McPherson Theatres Society, the board of which consists of representatives from Victoria, Oak Bay and Saanich city councils.

However, Victoria is the only municipality to provide funding to the theatre. Last year, the city kicked in $750,000 of taxpayers’ dollars, despite the fact that Saanich residents provided the highest amount of ticket sales, followed by Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Langford and View Roya1.

“It’s a clear indicator that this is a regional service and it needs to be supported regionally. I hope this step will bring our partners to the table to meaningfully and financially support the McPherson Theatre,” said Coun. Jeremy Loveday during Thursday’s meeting.

Mayor Lisa Helps added the transfer of the property is critically important in encouraging other municipalities to contribute as well.

“The CRD should go to each municipality and target those councils to make a strong case (for funding). Capital monies will be going towards an assets that is regionally owned, not a facility that’s owned by the City of Victoria,” she said.

City staff will work with members of the theatres society to appeal to Oak Bay and Saanich councils to consider kicking in funding.

The playhouse serves roughly 25,000 people and is expected to host 50 productions this year.