New Westminster (BC) - Everyone in the City of New Westminster BC thinks of their 1260-seat Massey theatre as their "Grande Dame". But there's a problem: it's owned by a school board that wants to plough it down.
A Safe, Efficient, Essential Heritage Theatre for the Community
Planning is underway for a new secondary school. This is great news. But, the future of the Massey Theatre is now threatened by site selection proposals for the new school. There are several other options are available to build the new high school and preserve Massey Theatre for the community.
A VITAL PIECE OF OUR CULTURAL HERITAGE
The landmark Massey Theatre is a unique and valuable asset to New Westminster. At 1260 seats, it is the largest theatre outside Vancouver filling the gap in available venues between 800 and 2000 seats. The theatre hosts 200 performances and events each year. It has been an inspiration and home to generations of artists, students and community members for 60 years now. The use of the Massey Theatre also benefits the high school’s arts, drama and music programs. Performing in a real theatre greatly enhances the educational experience of students.
The loss of the Massey Theatre would be a huge loss to New Westminster. Arts groups in New Westminster, such as the Royal City Musical Theatre, New Westminster Youth Ballet, Last Monday at the Movies and various cultural concerts require the large capacity to break even and grow.
THE THEATRE IS SAFE AND EFFICIENTLY MANAGED
Big numbers are being mentioned which may scare the public into accepting the demolition of the Massey Theatre. A recent report states $18 million is required to renovate Massey to the level of a brand new theatre complete with new seats and solar walls. Massey Theatre does not require these extensive upgrades. In fact, Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre is now installing wooden backed seats to improve acoustics. Massey Theatre already has wooden seats.
Left alone, the Massey Theatre is fine the way it is. Of course some investment will be required in the coming years. But it can be planned for and the Massey Theatre Society is entirely capable of planning and fundraising. In the last 10 years alone, MTS has fundraised for and carried out leasehold improvements totalling $1.5 million. The City’s chief building inspector recently confirmed no upgrades are required to keep the theatre operating.
Massey Theatre is an efficient and viable community theatre. The operation generates 82% of its $700,000+ annual budget from earned revenue. The Massey Theatre Society formed in 1983 with a board of community members overseeing fulfilment of the mandate and programs within solid financial plans. Massey Theatre is a real success story.
A SIGNIFICANT EMPLOYER AND AN ECONOMIC ENGINE FOR NEW WESTMINSTER
Massey Theatre is the envy of many cities drawing regional audiences of over 100,000 to the many performances and events held here in New Westminster. The theatre contributes a minimum $2 million each year to the local economy as a busy destination. The theatre directly employs fifty people, six of them full time. While many cities fundraise with the hopes of someday building a large theatre, New Westminster has a wonderful one already.
A COMMUNITY ASSET FOR ALL OF US
We need leadership from our school and city officials. The Massey Theatre is too valuable to this community to give it up. Please express your concern for the Massey Theatre to your elected by writing a letter or attending City Council and School Board meetings.
For further information or to get involved, please contact Massey Theatre at 604-517-5900.
A message from the Save the Massey Theatre Coalition