REPORTING · 29th April 2010
During the budget process for 2010, Theatre Manager Brenda Feldhoff from the Mount Elizabeth Theatre came to Council with a problem. She asked Council for assistance with technical difficulties the Theatre was experiencing due to the aging lighting system.
During the budget process, Kitimat City Council approved a lighting board for the Theatre. This was the good news. The bad news was: “The lighting board isn’t the issue, it is the dimmers,” said Feldhoff.
The money Council put aside for the lighting board would not be enough as the Theatre's lighting system would need a retrofit. Replacing the board is inexpensive, but the dimmers, which communicate between the boards and the lighting also needed to be replaced. They have been patching the board, which contained obsolete technology for the last four years. The Prince Rupert Theatre was able to send up a box of parts for the board.
“In the Theatre, things never go conveniently, quietly or inexpensively,” said Feldhoff.
On Monday, April 19th, Feldhoff came to Kitimat Council a second time. “I came before you in February and here I am again,” said Feldhoff. “We have had a lighting [problem] and now it’s an emergency crisis. Our lighting board has failed and the technology with the lighting board is old technology.”
She explained they have to replace the dimmers as well as the lighting board and although they were not sure about the cause, six lights had blown. They did know the technology was 30 years old and replacement parts were becoming harder to find. The company was no longer around.
To make matters worse, when the lights blew, they shorted out and the wires burned. This is a safety issue.
She explained they are planning a retrofit and are bringing up a professional. She asked for the capital for 2011 and an additional $4,800 which would bring her shy of the amount. “There is no plan for this particular crisis but it’s here,” said Feldhoff. She came before council on bended knee.
Councillor Bob Corless wanted to know if the Theatre was owned by the School District. Feldhoff reminded him it was jointly owned by the School District and the District of Kitimat. He clarified she would short money even if they give her the grant. Feldhoff explained she had made a miscalculation and she was trying not to ask for a dollar more than she needed.
“I’ve always said the Theatre is like the child of two parents. And one parent, the D-O-K has always had more money than the other up until recently. Now I feel like the child of two very poor parents. But the bottom line is, we are a wonderful facility run on a dime and on a shoe string and I think both sides have gained a great value,” said Feldhoff.
Councillor Randy Halyk wanted to know why the Theatre was running on a deficit. Feldhoff explained a majority of the population to draw performers who would pay for the facilities. She explained they were inexpensive for community renters to come in.
“We want them to utilize the Theatre; we want them to use the space, but how much can you charge for the space when on average, [they attract] maybe 250 people,” said Feldhoff.
Councillor Rob Goffinet cued in this was an emergency because without lights, the Theatre does not run. Feldhoff stated she was ready to shut down the Theatre after losing six lights three years old she did not have the money to replace. Most lights last 10 years and the Mount Elizabeth Theatre is good at making them last twice this long.
Feldhoff also explained the person they were bringing up for the retrofit had a good reputation and should be able to do the retrofit at the cost they were quoted. With no other questions, she sat down.
This came up later in the meeting. Corless motioned helping them out with $15,000 and considered their capital for 2011 a part of this. Goffinet wanted a clarification on the amount. Halyk wanted to see the Theatre’s financial records so they could help out although he suggested the theatre would have to stand on it’s own. Councillor Richard McLaren reminded him they saw the finances during the budget process.
Goffinet said they tend to overlook the Theatre which is a treasure. They spend millions of dollars on recreation and health but do not spend enough on culture and the Theatre is the centre of culture in Kitimat. He suggested trying to get people to cultural events in the community.
Halyk agreed the Theatre was a good facility in a beautiful location. He still wanted reality to take over. They need a line. Councillor Corless agreed on the grounds the province was not putting the funds forward and committees needed to hammer on the province a little. Next year, they may need to make hard choices unless the province starts pulling some weight.
Municipal Manager Trafford Hall reminded Council the Theatre was not designed to make money. It was there to be a cultural center. Corless pointed out the Prince Rupert Theatre was closing at times of the year to make up their deficit. Halyk said he understood but he stated the other facilities are run by the Council while the Theatre was not.
The motion was called and carried.