Courtenay theatre standing by its user feee policy

Dear editor,
Some of the Sid Williams Theatre's community user groups have requested a further review by the board.

Dear editor,Some of the Sid Williams Theatre’s community user groups have requested a further review by the board, by letter or in the media, regarding their request for continuing to receive not-for-profit rates while not being actual not-for-profits.Therefore, the SWTS board has consulted with the City again and received their approval for whatever action the SWTS believes is correct in interpreting the definitions and application of the two rate schedules approved for 2012 by City council. The SWTS does not support subsidizing the rates for any commercial user group for the following reasons.The Sid Williams Theatre Society is itself a not-for-profit organization and charity that has operated the Sid Williams Theatre since 2000. Over 3,500 volunteer hours annually are required to operate the theatre and the society.All not-for-profits using the theatre are structured essentially the same and rely on multiple volunteers to run their organizations, to qualify for not-for-profit status, and therefore government subsidies or grants.The SWTS believes as a matter of principle that it is not fair to the SWTS, the City, other government funders, and the not-for-profit user groups that a commercial enterprise benefit financially from these subsidies and the volunteer efforts of others.In fact, it jeopardizes our own status as a not-for-profit and charity since surplus revenues from SWTS Presents events, interest on endowment funds, and charitable donations are used to support overall operational expenses and capital replacement expenditures.When we took this action we anticipated that most, if not all, of the affected organizations would qualify for and seek non-profit status. This would allow the SWTS to continue to offer the preferential rates to them in a manner that meets the criteria for our operating as a not-for-profit and charity.Our decision was not meant to cause controversy or disenfranchise anyone from access to the theatre. We believe that everyone was given fair notice in 2011, personally and in writing, that this action was being taken.We acknowledge the contributions that these companies have made to this community for many years. We have no desire to disappoint or place an unfair burden on any child, parent, grandparent, family member or any person who supports children participating in the performing arts.If any local company obtains their not-for-profit status, we will be pleased to apply the not-for-profit rate. If they choose to remain commercial enterprises, we trust they will take what steps are necessary to remain in business and provide the theatre experience to their clients.We do not believe that just raising ticket prices for performances is their only option, however ticket pricing and attendance is the sole responsibility of the theatre user group. We also believe the assertion regarding having to more than double ticket prices is highly inflated and inaccurate.Going forward, the SWTS will be enforcing its booking policies and confirming not-for-profit good standing without fail. We will not consider returning to previous practice.On behalf of our volunteers and staff, we hope that these user groups are able to find their way to a financial solution that allows them to continue their patronage of the theatre and to bring their clients to the stage. We also hope everyone understands our position and the necessity of our actions. Nicole M. DetersEditor’s note: Nicole Deters is the president of the Sid Williams Theatre Society board of directors, and submits on their behalf.

Comox Valley Record

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