With a few days remaining before the deadline to bid on the historic Pantages Playhouse Theatre, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra is hopeful it’ll be able to purchase the 104-year-old building and help grow Winnipeg’s cultural district.
The WSO has been operating Pantages for the city at no cost over the past seven years – a stretch of time the Symphony’s executive director said has given the WSO some big ideas on how to use this space – should their bid be accepted.
“The Pantages Theatre wouldn’t be the primary performing space for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra,” said Trudy Schroeder.
“It’s just too small and the economics of it just don’t work. However, where we do see huge potential is when it comes to our specialized programming, where it comes to programming for youth, perhaps the New Music Festival kinds of activities.”
“(It could be used for) some of our engagement opportunities with different parts of the community, and a connection point with other not-for-profit performing groups in the city. It would really be a sort of community centre for the arts. That’s our vision for it.”
The WSO has two potential plans to revamp the facility should their bid be accepted, depending on how much money they can raise. Funding for their plans will come a combination of donors who have expressed interest in helping to finance the project and funding from a number of public sources.
Schroeder said she’s aware of at least two other bids for the national historic site, and hopes the theatre’s long cultural history will be considered when selecting a new owner.
“It’s a gateway cultural facility into the cultural district. There’s the Concert Hall, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, there’s the Warehouse Theatre and there’s Pantages Theatre, as well as the Manitoba Museum and the Martha Street Print Shop. There are a whole bunch of cultural organizations clustered in that area.” she said.
“It’s got this kind of feel and vibe, and we need to think about those things as a community. We need to think about how we use our city. We believe this is a cultural space and should remain a cultural space. “
The deadline for submissions is Friday, after the city extended the original Aug. 31 deadline to provide more time for potential buyers to prepare their bids.
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