This group asked questions of city council about the city’s role in the future of the Grande Parlour, which is set to close its door in January of next year.
A group of over 20 passionate defenders of the arts went to Cold Lake city council to show how important the Grande Parlour theatre has been in their lives.
Craig Konechny, president of the Cold Lake Entertainment Society, had said in a press release last week that the theatre would be closing at the start of 2020.
“In January we hope to have enough revenue left over to box and catalogue all our equipment and rent a heated storage space to store everything for another opportunity to present itself,” said the release.
During public question period, residents asked council if they knew what was happening with the Grande Parlour.
Chris Vinning, councillor, said at council he would like to see a plan brought forward the society, but took issue with an insinuation in the press release that city knew of the failing financial situation.
“It was making it sound like council knew there were operating issues with the Society and chose to turn a blind eye. And that’s not true at all. We didn’t know,” said Vinning.
“We were not brought in to have a discussion to talk about operations. When we as council are trying to debate that, we have always been willing to have that discussion no matter what group came forward.”
The Cold Lake Entertainment Society has received $32,000 this year from the City in support of the Verge Festival and equipment upgrades.
The M.D. of Bonnyville also supported $25,000 towards an improved theatre experience.
The CLES board in the relase called the money “bittersweet” since it did not cover operational costs.
‘It’s a new avenue’
Mayor Craig Copeland on the Morning After said they need to come to council with a plan. It would be out of the ordinary if they did fund the operating costs of the Society.
“When it comes to operating and sustaining their business or society, it’s an area we don’t really dive into. That isn’t to say council couldn’t do it, but we don’t have a proposal in front of us and so that’s the other missing part,” said Copeland.
“There might have been conversations, but you need to work as a group, build out your business plan and come to council and show us what it is you are requesting. It’s a new avenue if council looks at operations.”
Copeland said the future phases of the Cold Lake Energy Centre include a theatre expansion, however, with the change in ID 349 funding in 2017 that saw the city receive almost $10 million less, that has been put on the backburner.
The question then becomes if the city owns and rents a building what will be the charge of user fees for the facility.
“If the Grande Parlour or the Entertainment Society wants to continue to do the arts, they’re better off finding space to lease right now to use for their productions…than wait for the City to decide right now if they can build a $3 million theatre.”