Vibrant, independent, not-for-profit community theatres have largely disappeared from the North American scene.
Fortunately, Picton’s Regent theatre hasn’t and the magnificent “Monarch of Main Street” will be 100 years old next year.
Make no mistake, there are a number of reasons that Prince Edward County is home to one of the most historic, working theatres in North America. It is a result of a collaborative community enterprise that includes more than 100 dedicated volunteers working 4,500 plus hours over the last year. There are 560 Foundation Members that have purchased memberships and the theatre is fortunate it has 70-plus business sponsors, key benefactors, Prince Edward County and the Parrott Foundation. Added to this is a small part-time, hard-working staff and a well-qualified board of eight directors whom have set priorities for the future in their strategic plan.
Just to illustrate how vibrant the Regent has been in the past year, listed below are a few statistics.
The theatre has provided this community with 363 days of entertainment with 38,000 local residents and tourists coming through the door. This entertainment includes first-run movies, live theatre and concerts, HD shows from around the world -opera, theatre, concerts, sports, family movies and events and Cinefest alternative cinema.
As part of the Regent’s contribution to the County’s cultural and tourism sector, $3 million plus of economic value is generated for the County. I understand that the municipality will decrease its yearly grant of approximately $38,000 to the Regent by $5,000 per year over the next seven years. This decision makes it even more important that the Regent generates additional revenue to keep the Theatre viable.
The Regent relies on sponsors and grants but there is a $60,000 to 70,000 gap which must be filled by increasing memberships. Presently 2.5 per cent support the Regent. That is not enough to keep it going. Five per cent support from membership will provide a balanced budget and allow expanded programming.
Perhaps as County residents proud of our local magnificent theatre, you will consider purchasing a membership or volunteer there for a few hours a month. There are seven different levels of membership starting at $50 ($20 for students), all with free perks. Memberships and brochures are available at the Regent Box office (613-476-8416) or you may go to TheRegentTheatre.org for more information.
I cannot think of a more beautiful sight than the Regent lit up at night as you walk or drive along Main St. or approach it coming up Ross St. I think perhaps my thoughts are shared by many residents of the County.
If anyone has questions about the Regent Theatre they may direct them to general manager Bob Schroen at 613-476-7042.
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