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As an avid supporter of the performing arts in our community and in particular Pacific Opera Victoria (POV), where I serve as a board member, I am dismayed by the recent decision of the Royal/McPherson Theatre Society (RMTS) to dramatically increase rental rates and restrict access of the local not-for-profit arts groups which rely on the Royal Theatre as the venue for their performances.

While as a result, the Victoria Symphony has already announced the relocation of some of their concerts to the Farquhar Auditorium at UVic, POV does not have that option as it requires the backstage facilities and infrastructure which are only available at the Royal Theatre.

The performing arts make a substantial contribution to the economy of our region. POV alone generated $2.8 million in employment income last year which were jobs for local artists, administrators, crafts people and staff at the Royal Theatre.

To jeopardize the ability of POV and other performing arts organizations that contribute so significantly to the economic and cultural well-being of our communities seems to be poor public policy indeed.

I join with many other arts lovers to ask that the RMTS reconsider their position, particularly given that the Royal Theatre currently generates significant operating surpluses.

I also hope the councils of Victoria, Oak Bay and Saanich, all of which make generous contributions to the Royal Theatre, will demand a reassessment of this unfortunate decision of the RMTS.

Mary Collins

Saanich

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