BMO, Goldcorp donate $2 million to name new Vancouver theatre

BMO Theatre Centre will house the Goldcorp Stage

The BMO Theatre Centre will be near Olympic Village at 162 West 1st Avenue | The Arts Club

Two large Canadi­an companies are donating a combined $2 million to support Vancouver’s theatre community and gain naming rights on a new city-owned facility, located near Olympic Village, which the Arts Club Theatre Co. and Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival will share.

BMO Financial Group (TSX:BMO) is donating $1.5 million toward the building, which will be named the BMO Theatre Centre and open this fall. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G)’s $500,000 donation earns it the right to put its name on what will be the Goldcorp Stage inside the centre.

Government funding toward the centre from the City of Vancouver, Ottawa and Victoria adds a further $18.1 million.

“Our contribution to the BMO Theatre Centre is the most significant theatre sponsorship we’ve made in B.C.,” said Mike Bonner, who is senior vice-president of B.C. and Yukon for BMO Bank of Montreal.

Bill Millerd, who is the Arts Club's artistic director, told Business in Vancouver that his theatre company is attempting to get out of its lease on the Revue Stage on Granville Island so that the venue can be returned to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.  The Arts Club would then move its programming in the Revue Stage to the BMO Theatre Centre.

Millerd did not believe it would be possible to move the Revue Stage's liquor license but he said that the Arts Club is trying to secure one for its future venue.

"We felt that running three theatres is probably enough for us because we tour as well," Millerd said. "We subsidize the Revue Stage right now and don't think that we will be able to continue to do that."

The BMO Theatre Centre will enable the Arts Club to relocate administrative staff as well as have more rehearsal space. The venue's 250-seat theatre area will also have four different seat configurations, which Millerd said would improve the viewing experience for theatre-goers.

In addition to housing the Arts Club and Bard on the Beach, non-profit arts organizations will be able to rent the facility, at 162 West 1st Avenue, at cost.

The venue is expected to have state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.

The City of Vancouver secured the space through a community amenity contribution valued at $7.6 million. It also committed $7 million toward construction, through its 2014 capital budget, for a total of $14.6 million in support.

Other public funding for the project includes the Department of Canadian Heritage’s $2.5 million contribution through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.

B.C.’s Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development provided an additional $1 million.