Mayor disagrees with Tidemark grant

Mayor takes issue with Tidemark grant being issued too early

City council has approved funding to help the Tidemark Theatre bring acts into town but the mayor is taking issue with council’s decision to give the money out earlier than expected.

The Tidemark asked the city for a one-time, $50,000 grant in 2015 to use as ongoing programming funding which would be used for the sole purpose of booking shows.

But council chose to divide the funding over two years, starting with $25,000 this year and the remaining $25,000 given out in 2015.

Mayor Walter Jakeway, who opposed that motion, said he didn’t think it was fair that the Tidemark is potentially taking money away from other deserving groups.

“When I look at all the groups that come to council that ask for money and get no response, I can’t support giving money a year in advance,” Jakeway said. “I don’t know why we would twist ourselves and fiddle with our money to give the money early when the request was for 2015, and not fulfil the needs of just as legitimate groups in 2014.”

Coun. Ryan Mennie said the purpose of giving the money a year in advance is so the Tidemark knows how much it has to work with when booking entertainment for next year.

“The allotment we’re talking about in this motion…will really only come into effect for their 2015 season,” Mennie said. “It’s working ahead with an allotment so that they can program properly for the 2015 season.”

With the funding, the Tidemark can establish an ongoing account, or reserve, that will be built up using profits from financially successful shows. The reserve will allow the theatre to absorb any losses without impacting its operating budget.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said currently the Tidemark is forced to use money from its operating budget to cover losses from shows that have low ticket sales.

“These temporary losses are then balanced out over the long term by other shows that are profitable,” Milnthorp said. “This practice of using operating funds for this purpose can be risky and can negatively impact the operation of the theatre by draining operating funds.”

The city provides the theatre with its operating funds ($160,000 in 2014) for utilities and building maintenance and also gave the Tidemark $275,000 this year for capital projects such as the current seat replacement project and new carpeting.