Bluewater Playhouse wants Kincardine to forgive $16,000 in rent arrears
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Jaye Boyer speaks to Kincardine council last night
The Bluewater Summer Playhouse wants the Municipality of Kincardine to forgive about $16,000 in rent arrears.
Speaking to council in committee-of-the-whole last night (March 3) the playhouse's chairperson Jaye Boyer admitted this is an embarrassing situation to be in, but the board of directors is trying to rectify it.
While the board continues to pay its current rent, it is carrying over thousands of dollars in rent owed from as far back as the 2003-04 season, plus interest, said Boyer.
In August, 2008, council approved a bylaw, stating that if a group or individual has an outstanding debt to the municipality, any money received by the muncipality would be applied to that debt.
That same year, said Boyer, Enbridge instituted a grant and Bluewater Summer Playhouse received $3,600 which went straight to the outstanding rent. This year, the playhouse is not eligible for an Enbridge grant because the company's policy is that the funds are used for a project, not for debt, said Boyer.
"This situation creates a huge impact on the theatre as corporate support is vitally important to our survival," she said. "The loss of a grant will impact our income flow. In 2009, you will note that $6,400 was applied to rent, resulting in a $1,600 loss for the year."
The playhouse applied to the municipal tourism committee (CHAT) for a grant to pay off the rent arrears, but those funds are not available from that committee, said Boyer.
She said the rent arrears were incurred during the 2003-04 time period when Bluewater was obtaining a grant toward the installation of the elevator at the Kincardine Arts Centre, and then council stalled that installation for two years while it investigated the necessity of the elevator.
That delay, plus poor ticket sales, caused the shortfall, said Boyer. Interest has been adjusted to five per cent by council "but it has still been impossible to catch up on the arrears," she said.
Last year, the theatre also lost student employment grants from the federal government due to economic cutbacks, and the Ontario Arts Endowment Fund was decimated in the market downtown, resulting in a further loss of the theatre's dividend payment of $2,000, said Boyer.
"Bluewater Summer Playhouse is asking at this time that council forgive
our rent arrears, or exempt us from the bylaw that is preventing us
from receiving an Enbridge grant," Boyer said. Meanwhile, Bluewater is
instituting a plan immediately to put $1 from each ticket sale into a
rent account so this problem does not occur in the future, she said.
"We sincerely believe that as the only professional theatre in Bruce County, we have an important role to play in the vitality and stability of our downtown core," she said.
Referring to an impact statement, she said that last year, 59 per cent
of the theatre's patrons were not from the municpiality - those people
typically take either day or overnight trips to town and spend money
locally at shops, stores, restaurants and accommodations.
Chief administrative officer John deRosenroll suggested the
municipality could purchase tickets from Bluewater and use them as a
promotional item to get outside groups to "Discover Kincardine." Then,
some arrangement could be made over a four-year period to resolve the
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Wednesday, March 03, 2010