Conceptual designs show a possible new look for the exterior of the Tidemark Theatre. The theatre society is hoping to undertake facade improvements to make the theatre more prominent.

Tidemark facelift proposed

The Tidemark Theatre is proposing an overhaul to the outside of its building that includes outdoor cafe seating, a beer garden, and large signs to promote upcoming shows.

Kim Emsley-Leik, managing director of the Tidemark Theatre Society, said the improvements are all in an effort to help develop a thriving arts and culture precinct downtown.

It’s also to help the Tidemark carve out and solidify its identity.

“The Sid Williams Theatre (in Courtenay) displays prominent signage on the side of their building. It typically shows three simple things – the name of the show, the date and also the time that it’s on,” Emsley-Leik told city council at its Monday meeting. “In contrast, the Tidemark Theatre displays no signage.

“To a tourist you would not really know what this building is or what was going on in it every evening.”

She said the benefits of adding outdoor signage are many.

“It helps us promote our shows, helps us sell tickets and hopefully in theory, this helps us to have less reliance on grant funding,” Emsley-Leik said.

“Signage promotes impulse buys and it also helps organizations establish their brand.”

But that’s not all.

Emsley-Leik said the theatre society wants to make further facade improvements in order to make the theatre more visible – things like improving the marquee Tidemark sign, and possibly painting the outside of the building, though there would be an extensive public consultation process should there be a desire to change the theatre’s infamous pink exterior.

The most drastic changes proposed include a fenced in area in front of the theatre for possibly a beer garden and cafe seating. A food and beverage kiosk tucked into the corner of the theatre would complement the seating area.

The society is also proposing the use of armatures – similar to the big red steel structures in nearby Spirit Square – to hold LED signs that would promote upcoming events.

Emsley-Leik said the Tidemark Theatre Society is prepared to put in $35,000 towards the project. A portion would come from the $18,000 the Tidemark has raised through its $2 per ticket capital improvement fee, and from its BC Gaming Funds ($17,000).

Emsley-Leik told council on Monday that the society is hoping the city will contribute matching funds – roughly $15,000 for painting the outside of the building and between $10,000 and $76,000 for signage and infrastructure.

While council did not make a decision on city funding at this week’s meeting, Emsley-Leik noted that city staff have included a request for design funding for council to consider during its 2016 budget deliberations, set to begin on Dec. 7.

If the improvements do go ahead, they will join a long list of renovations and upgrades that the Tidemark has undertaken in the past few years which include: stage lighting upgrades, a new projector and screen, a new DCP projector, online ticketing upgrades, box office renovations, new seating, new flooring, and new indoor painting.

“In the past four and a half years, we’ve completely changed the face of the Tidemark Theatre for years to come,” Emsley-Leik said.

The society is hoping it’s just the beginning.


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