Michael Gurney marked his one year anniversary as manager of the Lester Centre of the Arts on Aug. 15. When he began his work a year ago, he envisioned a centre which would host activities nearly every day of the week.
At Monday’s council meeting, Gurney provided the city with an update on the centre’s activities. Gurney said his vision came to fruition through with 4,009 hours of bookings during their last season with approximately 12,000 audience members visiting the centre for shows, many of which were out of town visitors for B.C.’s annual dance competition.
Some items of note were the centre’s inaugural TEDx Prince Rupert conference, Rupert’s Got Talent, three performances of Neil Simon’s play Rumors, Ring System Music Studio’s annual performance, hosting Toastmaster’s and other activities.
Gurney also brought attention to all the volunteer members involved in the Lester Centre’s board.
“Each of them is a leader in their own right within Prince Rupert’s cultural landscape,” he said. “The service that each of them provides to the centre and to our community is reflective of the generosity and dedication that the Lester Centre inspires in Rupertites.”
For the upcoming season, Gurney said the Lester Centre is partnering with corporate sponsors to prioritize educators and students by providing them with more opportunities to attend their performances and interact with visiting artists.
The centre will also be investing in a live pay-per-view streaming program for select performances. The goal is to reach audiences in Haida Gwaii and other remote First Nations communities.
“The project is being undertaken in conjunction with a thorough technological overhaul of the theatre including guest-friendly internet connectivity that encourages social media sharing, the launch of an online ticket sale system, as well as activation of new online promotion platforms like Snapchat and Instagram,” Gurney said.
Gurney did note that it has been a challenge to sell out tickets for the higher-priced performers but they have seen an increase in rental revenue.
Council proclaims Nov. 11-16 as Métis Awareness Week
The Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC), a provincially and federally funded self-governing body representing Métis people in B.C., requested that the City of Prince Rupert “proclaim the week of November 11-16, 2019 as Métis Awareness Week and to show support by raising the Métis Infinity Flag” at city hall.
While council voted in favour of the proclamation, councillor Nick Adey brought up a concern that there would be “complexities” with raising the Métis flag over city hall for the week to which Mayor Lee Brain agreed, although neither specified what those complexities were.
Other council news: Revenues in Cow Bay still down, CN’s Rail Safety Week
Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben presented council with the June 2019 budget variance report. Cow Bay Marina is still facing a loss in revenue compared to 2018, as was also reported in their May 2019 variance report.
At July’s council meeting, Bomben said that other marinas have felt the same loss throughout the province for no particular reason other than the ebbs and flows of business, which she reiterated on Monday.
Council voted to support CN’s Rail Safety Week which will be held from Sept. 23-29. CN police service officers will be in communities throughout Canada to promote safety initiatives to prevent railway fatalities and injuries.
Cary Dalton was reappointed for another two-year term on the Prince Rupert Library Board, along with his colleague Steph Lysyk, who was reappointed at the last council meeting in July.
A public hearing was scheduled on Monday’s council meeting regarding rezoning the property lots at Biggar Place by Five Corners from residential use to commercial use. With no objections from the public, council moved forward with their plans to rezone.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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