October 11, 2023
Today, our excitement for the start of our 60th anniversary season is tempered by an unfortunate change in our 2023–2024 programming. We have made the difficult decision to postpone our production of Cambodian Rock Band, by Lauren Yee (scheduled for April 25–May 19, 2024, at the Newmont Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre).
WHY THIS IS NECESSARY
Postponing any production—especially a show like Cambodian Rock Band, which was previously postponed by the start of the Covid outbreak—is a big decision not taken lightly. It affects many people and we feel that keenly. It means the loss of work for the artists, artisans, and creative team who were already contracted for the show. It also means requesting your patience and cooperation as we reschedule the production.
As a not-for-profit theatre company, we consciously program some shows whose production costs are too high to recoup from the expected ticket sales at their venue. However, we believe in the importance of these mission-based works, such as Cambodian Rock Band, to stimulate our audiences, introduce new talent, and give voice to fresh perspectives. Regretfully, this planned artistic investment in Cambodian Rock Band, a show with a large, multi-talented cast and high expenses relative to the revenue capacity of the small venue, is no longer tenable in the face of the financial deficit from the 2022–2023 season, our first full season after the pandemic.
We sincerely hope that you can understand the necessity for this postponement. The economic environment and the increased expenses we incurred over the past season necessitate that we make adjustments that will help ensure the long-term financial stability of the Arts Club. Post-pandemic, we saw increased costs coincide with the slow return of audiences to our theatres. The Arts Club observed a 25% decrease in the number of our subscribers, who are the very lifeblood for many performing arts organizations.
As we begin the 2023–2024 season, our subscription sales are growing slowly, which is encouraging, but we are still well below our pre-pandemic numbers. This revenue loss must be balanced by increasing donations, corporate support, and government and foundation funding—all of which are increasingly challenging to attain—and by cutting expenses.
We know from our conversations with colleagues across the country that the arts sector is taking longer to recover from the effects of the pandemic, and every large not-for-profit organization is struggling with seasonal deficits at this time. It is our responsibility to take steps now to correct the Arts Club’s financial forecast.
WHEN TO EXPECT THE SHOW
We are committed to staging Cambodian Rock Band in the 2024–2025 season at our larger Granville Island Stage, so that many more audience members will be able to enjoy this remarkable theatrical journey. We hope to reunite the same artistic team, and all of us at the Arts Club truly look forward to sharing this show with you.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Peter Cathie White