GRAVENHURST - Council will be considering a new proposal from the Muskoka Theatre Project (MTP) later this November as the organization that once hoped to assume operations of the opera house has another idea.
The new proposal was in front of council during its meeting Oct. 16 and was subsequently tabled to allow newly installed CAO David Weldon some time to review it.
Opera house and arts and culture manager Brad Rundle presented the option, which proposes the MTP would rent the facility from early June to Aug. 17 in 2013 and requests the first right of refusal for rental from Aug. 17 through Oct. 12. The group is asking for a reduced rate of $500 per week rather than the current $473 per day, but that rate includes use of a staffer the MTP may not need for its programming. The town also has a program that allows community theatre groups to rent the facility for 50 per cent of gross revenues plus sharing of some expenses in lieu of a flat fee. Rundle said that is an option that has proven beneficial in the past as well.
In presenting the plan, Rundle pointed out July and August tend to be the opera house’s most successful months, drawing revenues averaging in the $56,000 range over that time.
“I have a few concerns with regards to some of the things MTP is asking for,” Mayor Paisley Donaldson said. “My main thing is the first right of refusal, I do have some concerns with that.”
In April of this year MTP presented a plan to council that would have seen the group assume operations, programming and management of the opera house, but it was denied when council later approved a resolution to prevent turning the facility into a production house.
Mayor Donaldson said the plan otherwise looks like it carries potential, but added with the impending budget process and some potential new programs being proposed for the opera house in 2013, she would not wish to rush into an agreement.
“We’re heading right into budget time. I think MTP could certainly play a role in some of the programming coming forward, but at this point, we need to look at this,” she added.
Weldon said he expects to have the next report and recommendation back to council for the Nov. 20 meeting.
“This is not a simple set of issues, so I would think a minimum of a month is needed,” Coun. Lola Bratty added into the discussion, supporting that the proposal be tabled for the time being. “I think what we’ll need is a fairly comprehensive report.”