Potential Pantages buyer shares plans as arts groups scramble to find new space
Published Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:57PM CST
There are mixed feelings about the future of the Pantages Playhouse Theatre.
Dance Manitoba said its annual ‘Showcase’ event will continue this November at the theatre, but what will happen to its 2019 spring festival, which has run for close to four decades and hosts thousands of people, is up in the air.
"The impact that's it’s having on the arts and cultural community is huge. It’s massive. It's a big hole. This is the only rental facility of this size in the city of Winnipeg," said executive director Nicole Owens.
This spring the City of Winnipeg put the Pantages up for sale.
Built in 1914, the theatre needs a lot of renovations.
Potential buyer shares plans
It’s a big project Trudy Schroeder has been eyeing from her office at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
The WSO’s executive director said it plans to submit a bid, having managed the Pantages for seven years. If successful, it wants to make up to $20 million in upgrades, including the possible addition of a restaurant.
"We want to have our box office there, we want to have our administrative offices there, Have teaching spaces, programing spaces, really we see it as a community connection centre for the arts,” said Schroeder.
She said the WSO would still perform at Centennial Concert Hall, and if all goes well, the groups who rely on it now can continue using the space.
Dance Manitoba said it would be great if the WSO bid is viable and provides a solution, but there are still a lot of unknowns.
"There's a little uncertainty at the moment, but we're hoping that there's going to be some positive outcomes,” said Owens.
Deadline to submit bid extended
There is still time to submit a bid to take over the theatre. The city said it extended the deadline until Sept. 28 to give potential buyers enough time to prepare their business models.
The city said it hired an interim manager for the facility in order to honour existing bookings for this year and is not in a position to entertain bookings beyond 2018.
The city said it hopes to announce a successful buyer in early 2019.