The AGM for the Lester Centre of the Arts was held by zoom conference on June 24, 2020, with the inaugural TEDx Event being mentioned as highlight of the year. In this photo, guest speakers at the TEDx Event held at the Lester Centre of the Arts on Friday, Apr. 19, 2019. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

AGM takes centre stage

Lester Centre presented annual reports on June 24

The bi-annual production scheduled for the Lester Centre of the Arts, Disaster, may have been a bit of a foreshadowing for the 2020 theatre season, but at the AGM the critique of the venue’s performance and a re-cap of the season’s expenditures held few surprises. It even offered an encore for improved revenue over expenditure from the 2018 fiscal year to 2019.

In March all upcoming events at the venue were cancelled due to the coronavirus entering from stage left and the curtains have remained closed since. Despite the unpredicted empty stage, the AGM went ahead as planned, with the major players participating on June 24, via Zoom teleconference.

“We might be setting ourselves up for some adventure, but we never could have predicted this,” Kristy Tillman, president of the Lester Centre board said, referring to the empty-seat fallout from COVID-19.

READ MORE: Vivace’s super-voices rang through Prince Rupert

Stealing the spotlight were the three main acts throughout the meeting — funding grant, capital expenses, and new board members.

The three-year funding agreement with the City of Prince Rupert is essential to the centre’s vitality and reached its end, Tillman said in her annual report to the board.

The $126,000 operating grant from the city is the annual infusion of funds to the venue’s operations. An increased funding agreement of $140,000 per year was negotiated by both parties for a further term, at the end of 2019.

Capital expenditures to improve the plumbing were undertaken in 2019 by the city, to upgrade the HVAC system with the replacement of controls to the air handling unit. The installation of a sump pump and other plumbing repairs were also completed.

Two new directors were voted in, replacing Molly Hembroff and Marg Lorette, both of whom have served their consecutive limit of six years. Voted in to replace them were Teresa Mackareth and Toni Carlson to fill out the 10 member board. Already in position are Kristy Tillman, president; Shawn Yeung, vice-president; Alexander Hembroff, treasurer; Diane Rabel; Janet Beil, school district appointee; and Nick Adey, city council appointee.

“With the departure of Michael Gurney (general manger) in May of this year, the board is planning on a concentrated recruitment campaign later this year, once the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions allow for the assumption of activities at the centre,” Tillman said.

Slightly upstaged by the three main acts, but deserving of an ovation, the revenue over expenditure was improved by more than $38,400 in the Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 fiscal year of 2019, compared to 2018.

The 32nd season of the centre presented a range of Canadian performers and genres, from modern dance to world music, Tillman said.

“The season provided an opportunity to experiment with promotional partnerships and to develop new audiences in an effort to increase attendance. In addition to the eight touring performances we also mounted three community productions including an inaugural TEDx Prince Rupert conference event, and a three-performance production of Neil Simon’s play Rumours,” Tillman said.

READ MORE: Bon Debarras had audience dancing in the aisles

Other performances and regular bookings included the B.C. annual dance competition, the Charles Hays production of Nine to Five the Musical, Ring System Studios, presentations of Jingle Bell Rock and Rock Stock as well as many School District 52 presentations.

“We also worked with community organizations to present family focused entertainers, Norman Foot and Charlotte Diamond, and we’re proud to collaborate with the Harbour Theatre Society in opening its Udder Theatre Festival,” Tillman said.

K-J Millar | Journalist 
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