Alistair Taylor

The Tidemark is past due a makeover

It brings a little bit of Paris caché to this former pulp mill town

The idea of a streetside cafe in the courtyard between the Tidemark Theatre and the library paints a pleasant summer scene that, dare I say it, brings a little bit of Paris caché to this former pulp mill town.

That’s one of the proposals the Tidemark Theatre Society has put before city council. It also included increased signage and possibly repainting the old gal from the now-faded pink to something different.

These are all very positive ideas and are definitely needed. I have to wonder, though, how thoroughly thought out was the idea of sticking a beer garden in the courtyard? The specifics are lacking because it’s probably just a concept at this stage but still, are they aware that there is a library that opens into that courtyard? I’m hoping that the beer garden will be open after library hours. Thankfully, the library closes at 8 but most shows at the Tidemark begin at 7:30 or 8 p.m. so any beer planting will have to occur before curtain time inside the theatre and during the library’s last hour of opening. I’m having a hard time imagining that will be allowed by the province.

Now, I know there’s talks about building a new library but so far it’s just talk – although some have suggested it be built at the city-owned three-acre site on the waterfront. I think that’s a good idea.

But getting back to the Tidemark, the theatre is also right next door to an existing streetside café, which has its own tables and chairs on the promenade. Putting publicly-funded facilities into competition with existing commercial services is a questionable practice. That was a point raised when a lounge was proposed for inside Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex a few years back.

The re-painting of the Tidemark is another point of interest. I was looking at  picture submitted to the Mirror recently that was taken in front of the Tidemark. I couldn’t help but exclaim how dingy the walls of the theatre looked. You get used to seeing something so often that it fades into the background. Well, that brought the Tidemark walls front and centre in my mind and they’re long past due for painting. Replacing the pink colour? Yeah, I’m all for it. Time for something new and more dynamic. Pink is no longer such a bold colour to choose. The building needs to stand out, not fade into the background. That giant spider on the adjacent wall would just need some cobwebs to complete the fallen-on-harder-times image. And, yes, better signage not only informing people about what’s going on inside but also drawing them to the building is necessary. You look at the Tidemark right now and you don’t really know what it is, other than an old-fashioned movie theatre.

But all of this may be a bit of the old putting the sizzle before the steak. Because if there’s nothing going on inside, then all the fancy tinsel and neon ain’t gonna attract people inside. Although, a beer garden might.

The Tidemark has had great success with “tribute” bands and other shows bring in a good audience but I wonder what the Tidemark is trying to make of itself? How many Campbell River-based groups use the publicly-funded theatre now? Is this a facility for community cultural groups or is it a  concert venue for touring acts? Or is it both? I’d like to see a clearer statement of what are the Tidemark’s plans for inside the theatre as well.