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Theatre Cambrian pres quits, says group shouldn't receive city bailout

Even if theatre troupe folds, 'no reason to think that would be the end of community theatre'
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The president of Theatre Cambrian's board of directors has stepped down, saying the organization is in such poor financial shape that she doesn't think city council should offer it the bailout package it's requesting. (File)

The president of Theatre Cambrian's board of directors has stepped down, saying the organization is in such poor financial shape that she doesn't think city council should offer it the bailout package it's requesting.

Last month, Greater Sudbury city council agreed to consider providing a bailout for Theatre Cambrian, the latest arts group forced to head to the city cap in hand looking for money.

The theatre troupe is looking for a total of $150,000 ($80,000 in loans and $70,000 in grants) after struggling in its new home, a former church on Eyre Street.

Councillors agreed to help the Sudbury Theatre Centre and the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra earlier this year, after both groups were hit by unexpected financial struggles.

Both groups had a recovery plan in place to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

The report on Theatre Cambrian, and the recommendation on whether to bail them out, will ready in a few months.

Chris Nash, who recently stepped down as Theatre Cambrian's president, said as a taxpayer, she doesn't think the bailout is a good idea.

“I wish them well, but I don't see how it can possibly survive as a business,” she said.

Nash was recruited to the theatre troupe's board last September by Derek Young, the board's vice-president, to help turn the group around financially and put in place proper financial practices.

Sudbury.com has a call into Young about Nash's resignation, but he was not immediately available for comment.

Quoted in other local media, Young said Theatre Cambrian has made a lot of progress in recent months, and is still working towards a more sustainable operation.

Nash said she's made extraordinary efforts to put proper accounting procedures in place at Theatre Cambrian, but with current staffing and resources, that seems to be a losing battle.

And despite measures such as putting the theatre troupe's money-losing Eyre Street building up for sale — it's currently listed at $495,000 — Nash said Theatre Cambrian is still in financial peril.

If Theatre Cambrian does manage to sell its building — they've only received one "lowball" offer so far, Nash said — it currently has no rehearsal space secured. 

It's arranged to produce its main-stage productions at Sudbury Theatre Centre next season, but the rent is quite high there.

Nash said she's crunched the numbers over and over, and can't see how the theatre company can be financially viable next season, given its substantial expenses and debts.

While Theatre Cambrian as a corporation is in difficulty, if it should fold, “there is no reason to think that would be the end of community theatre,” Nash said.

“Community theatre can continue with or without Theatre Cambrian. It's the business corporation that really is in such serious trouble.”




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