History & Mandate
The City of Nanaimo formed The Port Theatre Society in 1989 to build an 800-seat theatre on the breathtaking waterfront in downtown Nanaimo. The Port Theatre opened in September of 1998, thanks to grants from the Federal/Provincial Infrastructure Works Program and an outstanding level of community support. Of the $13.1 million budget, $8.6 million came from the Infrastructure Works program. The remaining $4.5 million was from individuals, service clubs and corporate donations, the City of Nanaimo and Regional District Areas A, B, C, D and E.
The purpose of The Port Theatre Society is to stimulate and enhance artistic, cultural and economic activity of central Vancouver Island
The theatre is a focal point for residents and visitors alike, offering a broad range of cultural events designed to meet many diverse interests and needs. Programs involve local groups as well as touring attractions and provide access to events for families, seniors, youths and adults, thereby enriching the overall quality of life in the region. A landmark on the city’s waterfront, it also serves as an important meeting place for a variety of community events, seminars and educational conferences. Over 250 events are held in the theatre each year attracting over 100,000 people.
Architect of the Port Theatre, Terry Williams’ goal was to build a theatre that had good sight lines from all seats, excellent acoustics and a wonderful sense of intimacy. Audiences have raved about these features since it opened.
Join one of the largest volunteer rosters in Nanaimo!
Pick up a Volunteer Application Form in-person at the Port Theatre Admin Office, 125 Front Street
With over 150 volunteers, the Port Theatre Society’s volunteer roster is one of the largest in Nanaimo. We’re privileged to have such dedication within our organization. The depth and experience of the volunteers ensures the seamless execution of the many events presented at the Port Theatre every year.
Volunteer shifts take place during events at the Port Theatre, including concerts, comedy, symphony, dance, receptions and more. We host over 250 events every year, which means that as a volunteer you have a lot of events to choose from! Volunteer positions include Ushers, Ticket Checkers, Audience Services, Coffee or Ice Cream Vendors, and Merchandise Assistants—all integral to running a successful event for the public to enjoy.
Total volunteer hours in 2018: 13,632
Total volunteer hours since 1998 opening: 282,480
The Island Savings/Port Theatre Community Programs provide a variety of educational and artistic programming for Vancouver Island youth.
Annual Youth Event
Each spring, the Port Theatre Society is proud to invite youth 25 and under to our theatre for a fun and accessible youth event! Our goal is to remove barriers to participation, and engage local youth audiences and families with a professional production by emerging Canadian artists.
$5 Tickets for High School Students
In grades 8-12? The Port Theatre is dedicated to making the arts accessible to young people in our community. High school students can experience the best that live arts has to offer for only $5, including most of our Spotlight shows and a selection of community events. But it’s more than that—it’s important that students engage in the process of purchasing tickets and connect with us directly to snag this deal. Please contact the Ticket Centre for the selection of shows with $5 tickets available. Call 250-754-8550 or visit us in-person.
Youth Volunteer Program
The Port Theatre Youth Volunteer Program is an opportunity for youth in our community to experience the arts, gain valuable skills and work experience, take a peek behind-the-scenes at our theatre, and enjoy the many benefits of giving back to the community.
Schools on Stage
Since 2000, our Schools on Stage program has allowed countless children in Nanaimo-Ladysmith public elementary schools and a variety of community youth groups a free day in the theatre to create their own productions and present them for the community. Our goal is to ensure access to the arts begins early for youth, and any funds raised by ticket sales go directly toward enhancement of each school’s arts programs.
Student Work Experience
The Port Theatre is proud to maintain a strong connection to the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Theatre Department to support students advancing their education in order to pursue a career in the performing arts. Student Work Experience provides opportunities for VIU Technical Theatre students to shadow the Port Theatre’s professional technicians during performances and rehearsals at our theatre in order to gain valuable experience toward their chosen career.
Construction of the Port Theatre 1997-1998
Founding Board of Directors
Founding Board Member Margaret Strongitharm at the Groundbreaking Ceremony June 6, 1996
Founding staff including Development Officer Sandra Thompson in 1998
School bus in front of the theatre
School play on the main stage