The Royal and McPherson Theatres Society (RMTS) has commissioned a feasibility study into the expansion of the Royal Theatre. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Anonymous donation funds Royal Theatre study on expansion

The Royal and McPherson Theatres Society will conduct a feasibility study into upgrades

The Royal and McPherson Theatres Society (RMTS) will get a feasibility study into the expansion of the Royal Theatre thanks to an anonymous donor.

The donor put forward an undisclosed amount of cash to fulfill the study. What the feasibility study will look at, said executive director Franz Lehrbass, is open-ended.

“That will be up to what we find out through a lot of conversations with key stakeholders, especially users of the facilities,” Lehrbass said. “It’s a chance to address existing challenges, but also new opportunities.”

Some common concerns include the number of washrooms and accessibility issues in the heritage building, which is more than 100 years old.

ALSO READ: Royal Theatre rate hikes on hold for now; user groups remain unhappy

New opportunities include more storage space, expanded loading capacity, a second performance space or an expanded foyer.

“We don’t have a budget set and we don’t have a long-term plan as far as the expansion goes, because we’re still at the idea stage,” Lehrbass aid. “It’s taking us one step further down the road.”

Whatever the feasibility recommends, there will be some constraints on what can be done.

“It’s not a complete, blue sky kind of thing,” Lehrbass said. “There’s the size of the lot, the existing building codes and physical restraints.”

ALSO READ: City of Victoria votes to consider funding changes at Royal Theatre

If expansion happens it would require access to the parking lot behind the theatre, which is owned by the Capital Regional District (CRD) and managed by the City of Victoria.

The RMTS has let the owners of the Royal Theatre (Victoria, Oak Bay and Saanich) as well as the CRD and theatre users know of the study, and have arranged for an information session on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. in the theatre’s foyer at the Royal Theatre at 805 Broughton St. Everyone is welcome to offer input.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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