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COVID-19News in CommunitySpotlight Series


By February 5, 2021No Comments

The Port Theatre Society is very grateful to Island Savings, a Division of First West Credit Union, for their continued support in past years and throughout this pandemic. Island Savings has invested in our community and the ever-changing evolution of live performance. Now that the Port Theatre offers livestreaming, the arts are more accessible than ever. In addition, Island Savings is offering their members a 25% discount on upcoming spring Spotlight shows in 2021. Please join us online for live entertainment at the Port Theatre.

Since 2016, Island Savings has contributed $25,000 each calendar year to The Port Theatre Society in order to support community and educational programming for Vancouver Island youth. Prior to COVID-19, this money went towards annual youth events and Schools on Stage. The 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.

“When COVID-19 hit in March, the Port Theatre was shut down due to the public health order. As a result, we were unable to provide our youth programming. However, Island Savings assured us that we could count on their $25,000 and redirect the money to meet our immediate needs. Following the August public health order, the Port Theatre was able to reopen in October 2020 to in-person audiences of 50. Our first Spotlight show, Joelle Rabu & Nico Rhodes took place on October 17, 2020. In addition, we were able to pivot and launch our first livestream show to very satisfied patrons,” explains Bruce Halliday, General Manager / Director of Programming.

Island Savings provided an additional $5,000 to become season sponsor of the 2020/2021 Spotlight Series. The Spotlight Series is the Port Theatre Society’s nationally-acclaimed presentation series that includes some of the most exciting touring artists available, every one of them showcasing artistic excellence and innovation. At the heart of the Spotlight Series is a passion to create access to diverse and authentic experiences for our audiences.

The Port Theatre experienced a second shutdown in November and December 2020. Due to the latest provincial health order, in-theatre audiences are not permitted at this time as Dr. Bonnie Henry extended the restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  The good news is the Port Theatre will be able to livestream every Spotlight show this spring! Spotlight artists will perform with or without an in-theatre audience.

“We highly recommend livestreaming performances from the Port Theatre. The quality of sound and video make the home experience the next best thing to being there in-person. We so appreciate the Port Theatre’s efforts to keep its audience connected and we will definitely purchase livestream tickets again.” —  Brad and Mila Skeeles

Live events are an important part of the cultural and economic fabric of Canada and our community. Like so many industries, the pandemic hit theatres hard as we were the first to shut down and will be one of the last to return to our full capacity of 800-seats. More than ever before, The Port Theatre Society needs financial help in order to keep operating and preparing for recovery. We’ve invested in excellent livestreaming technology and trained our staff in new ways because our industry is evolving and Island Savings is part of our growth. Their belief in us and the community, keeps our spirits up during this ongoing pandemic. Showcasing important artistic work in a time of a pandemic, bringing some of the very best to our community and streaming it back out to the world, is inspiring and uplifting.

“As a member-owned financial cooperative, helping our communities thrive is part of who we are. Our members take pride knowing that when they choose to do business with us, it directly correlates to strengthening local community organizations like our long-term partner, The Port Theatre,” says Kendall Gross, President, Island Savings. “This past year has been challenging for all of us, and community organizations were not immune to pressures created by the pandemic with events getting cancelled and many organizations pulling back sponsorship dollars. That is why we are thrilled to help The Port Theatre Society pivot during this time—when people are encouraged to stay home—by providing them with the funds needed to invest in new technologies. Their virtual platform will enable patrons to watch high-quality performances from the comfort of their own home, ensuring the arts continue to thrive on Vancouver Island.”