“We can do better” – Colin Service
On the Newmarket Theatre Financials
Newmarket, ON, October 7, 2016 – The Newmarket Taxpayers Advocacy Group Inc. (NTAG) hosted an Open House on Wednesday, October 5, 2016 with special guest, Colin Service, Director of Recreation and Culture for the Town of Newmarket.
NTAG volunteers recently met with Colin Service, the Director of Recreation and Culture for the Town of Newmarket, to discuss the 2015 $776,347 deficit reported in the Town of Newmarket financials for the theatre. Of the $776,347, $284,141 is revenue lost, and $492,206 is operational overhead costs. The operational costs, (which are determined by an accounting formula employed for all Town departments) included shared departmental costs such as human resources, legal service, IT, and other services. Mr. Service was adamant these operational costs are present in the Recreation and Culture departmental budget regardless of the performance of the theatre. He stated these costs would exist even if the theatre did not. NTAG thinks otherwise. “Operational costs are the costs of operating a business,” said Teena Bogner, President of NTAG. “Is it reasonable for the taxpayers to subsidize an underperforming facility such as the theatre?”
The Newmarket Theatre currently employs three full-time employees, and seven casual employees. During the 2015 theatre season, the Newmarket Theatre presented five shows and accommodated 20 rentals from September – June. For the 2016/17 season, there are currently seven performances booked for the Newmarket Theatre, and six for the Old Town Hall. “Clearly, taxpayers question the necessity of three full-time employees for so few performances,” said Bogner. “The theatre has been losing money for years. What has staff been doing to reverse this financial trend? These are legitimate questions. Taxpayers are subsidizing this annual deficit.”
During the evening Mr. Service frequently stated, “We can do better” and has confirmed that a restructuring of theatre staff has occurred with a goal to increase performances and rentals. Several questions were posed regarding the impact the re-opening of the Old Town Hall would have on the financial health of the Newmarket Theatre. Mr. Service was clear that the Old Town Hall theatre would neither compete nor significantly influence the rental bookings at the Newmarket Theatre.
Several Open House participants stated the quality and number of Town presented entertainment options at the Newmarket Theatre were limited and poor. Mr. Service concurred. He confirmed the Town is actively pursuing several top performances in the months to come. Performances are booked 12 – 18 months in advance. “Is the Town on the right track? We will know in 12- 18 months. Until then, taxpayers will continue to pay for an underperforming municipal theatre,” states Teena Bogner.
“However, it appears that Mr. Service and his team have taken the recommendations of the recent Theatre Task Force seriously, and are working to make the necessary changes to improve the finances and overall operation of the Newmarket Theatre.”
The Newmarket Taxpayers Advocacy Group Inc. (NTAG) is a provincially incorporated non-for-profit ratepayers group in Newmarket, ON. NTAG is a non-political, non-partisan, advocacy organization dedicated to fair taxes, less waste and transparent and accountable government in all levels of government (town, region and school boards) in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
For information on Newmarket Taxpayers Advocacy Group Inc.:
Teena Bogner Doug Brown
President Communications Chairperson
View Newmarket Theatre 2015/2016 Financial Budget