The City of Toronto has published an official “Call Document” soliciting “expression of interest” (REOI) on taking over its three theatres: the Sony Centre, the St Lawrence Centre for the Arts and the Toronto Centre for the Arts. The deadline for submissions is July 6.
Since the beginning of this year, the city has indicated that wants to find creative ways on cutting back the approximately $4 million subsidy these venues receive annually. The St Lawrence Centre and Toronto Centre for the Arts provide subsidized performance space to a multitude of music and other arts groups that would otherwise not have access to a professional-quality venue.
Unless the theatre or theatres were spun off as independent non-profit corporations, any changes to how the city operates the venues would almost certainly mean hardship for its most financailly vulnerable tenants. It would also lead to higher ticket prices.
What businessperson in their right mind would willingly subsidize their real-estate?
Even the Royal Conservatory of Music makes outside organizations pay full rent for its space, including the Telus Centre’s flagship Koerner Hall.
Here are the three relevant passages from the details of the Call Document:
The first purpose of this REOI is to solicit innovative, creative, and sustainable Options for the sale, lease, operation or other arrangement of one, two or three of the City’s Civic Theatres.
The City is embarking on a process to determine Options that will provide financial, cultural, economic, and/or other benefits to the City, while minimizing risks to the City. This REOI is intended to allow interested parties to submit information to the City to determine potential options for a process going forward. No one Respondent will be selected as a result of this process. All qualified Submissions will be considered through a review process by a review committee, and the Option or Options that provide the most benefit to the City (financial, cultural or otherwise) will be collected and reported to Council for further consideration.
The second purpose of this REOI is a pre-qualification to any subsequent procurement processes that may arise out of this REOI process.
“Pre-bid” site tour dates have been set for mid and late June for anyone interested.
UPDATE: As of the morning of June 20, 10 names had signed up as having paid the $84.75 to purchase the Call Document submission forms: Colliers International, Fishman Consulting, Meretsky Lay (as an agent for someone else), Live Nation Canada Inc., CanStage, NetGain Partners, Madison Square Garden, J C Rice Holdings Ltd, Maclem Productions and Stage by Stage Holdings.
You can find all the details here.