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By now, many of you have heard the sad news that the Playhouse Theatre Company commenced to wind down operations as of March 10.

On the preceding day, Leila and I attended the announcement, which could only be described as a wake for a departed loved-one. An unusual silence fell over the assembled group of arts workers and press people, and many shed tears when it was made clear why we had been brought together. The unimaginable had happened.

 The Playhouse Theatre Company has been a part of our cultural fabric for 49 years. Children, who grew up with this company, now take their children and maybe even their grandchildren.

 The current climate for the arts is anything but sunny and, even a venerable company can run into storm clouds. But no one should think an arts organization blindly moves towards the precipice. I cannot think of one Vancouver colleague who is not completely dedicated to providing the best programming to the community they serve and doing their utmost to build a thriving and vital business.

 Running an arts organization takes fortitude, dedication, passion, nerve, and endless energy and focus. But even that is often not enough to sustain an arts business.

 Just a couple of days ago I received a note from a patron thanking the VRS for presenting Murray Perahia. The writer went on to point out that artists of this stature would not appear in Vancouver were it not for the support of the Martha Lou Henley Charitable Foundation and of Odlum Brown, our Season Sponsor.

How very true. Simply put, we would not have undertaken a recital of this magnitude without this level of support.

Equally, we could not undertake any of our work without the support of our other corporate sponsors and advertisers, the large number of individuals who make donations, and the dedication of our ticket buyers.

This level of giving, and the passion shared by this large group, inspires our own passion to bring the very best musicians to Vancouver.

The writer mentioned above, went on to say the demise of the Playhouse Theatre Company is a ‘wake-up call’ for our community.

The arts have always been in a somewhat precarious situation, but a new level of fragility has set in.

This is indeed our wake-up call. This is a time when we must all work for – no, fight for – the cultural vibrancy and diversity we love. We need to tell politicians how the arts influence our lives; we need to experience culture in all its multifarious forms; we need to introduce children and neighbours to performances and galleries; we need to support with donations and volunteered time.

The arts are there for us – let’s make sure we are there for the arts.

Paul Gravett

Executive Director
Vancouver Recital Society

p.s. The Playhouse Theatre Company and the Vancouver Playhouse are often confused. The former is the production company that will cease operations; the latter is the venue in which it presented plays. The venue will remain available for other presenters such as the Vancouver Recital Society.

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