Volume 93, Issue 31

Tuesday, October 26, 1999


Tango not entirely bad

BATS sinks fangs into predictability

Grand Theatre launches new fundraising efforts

Mos Def, Choke come out strong

Grand Theatre launches new fundraising efforts

By Nina Chiarelli
Gazette Staff

With the recent announcement of a fundraising campaign, the Grand Theatre is hoping the city of London will see more curtain calls than ever.

On Friday, the Grand kicked off a campaign entitled Angels and Heroes, initiated to raise money for the debt-ridden theatre.

"It's an attempt to reach out to all parts of the London and southwestern Ontario community," said John Judson, vice-president of the Grand Theatre Board of Directors.

The campaign will focus on special initiatives geared towards raising funds, such as allowing contributors to purchase specific seats in the auditorium or take part in naming a dressing room. "We're hoping to raise $500,000," Judson said. "Even ticket sales will go a long way."

As a result of filling, on average, only 60 per cent of seats, the theatre is roughly $1 million in debt. However, Judson said the numbers don't come as a shock. "It's certainly not inconsistent with attendance in the past."

The campaign comes on the heels of a proposal by city controller Orlando Zamprogna. If approved by city council, the proposal would lump the Grand Theatre, Orchestra London and the London Regional Art and Historical Museums under one administrative umbrella. "I'm asking the council to look more broadly at a concept to support the arts," Zamprogna said.

He added if handled carefully, sharing administrative efforts, facilities and performance promotions would be a step towards remedying the Grand's financial woes.

Judson said while Zamprogna's proposal to unite all three arts organizations seems financially beneficial, he was a little wary of restructuring the operations to suit the idea. "There's potentially a disadvantage to merging organizations that are quite different," Judson said.

He added he would be glad to co-operate on joint functions, but with such different mandates it could be difficult. "The city would like to have a co-ordinated effort to support the arts – it's always a possibility."

David Haward, general manager of Orchestra London, said restructuring the arts was a very complicated issue. "All three take very different expertise and there isn't a lot to be saved financially by merging all three," he said.

Haward said the character of London was made up of arts and culture and the Grand and Orchestra London each lend distinctiveness to the city.

As far as the Grand is concerned, the main focus in the near future will lie in Angels and Heroes. However, Judson said the theatre's main priority is getting out of the red. "The Grand has been around for 99 years and it's too important to close."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999