Gregory Dahl and Mlada Khudoley Manitoba Opera's production of Salomé (Bob Tinker)
How are you spending your entertainment dollars now that the National Hockey League is back?
Some are suggesting that arts groups are taking a hit because Winnipeggers are choosing hockey over the arts. Numbers for Manitoba Opera's first production of Salomé were down, but CEO Larry Desrochers says Salomé is not one of the top ten operas. Attendance tends to drop off when people are less familiar with a work.
Are the Jets a factor? "We don't know," says Desrochers. "We have no documented evidence of that. Everyone thinks that it's fantastic that the Jets are back. They're a game-changer for the city. Any great city needs a combination of things. We need arts; we need culture; we need sports; we need architecture; we need great public spaces. And Winnipeg should have all of that as well."
He says all of the major arts groups have been around for a long time and are very solid. They meet regularly and work collaboratively on projects. "We're looking to ways to be innovative all the time."
Attendance at professional sports events vs. professional arts and cultural events in Winnipeg
(courtesy of Winnipeg Arts Council's Ticket to the Future Phase 1)
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet also experienced a 10 per cent drop in ticket sales for their opening production of Svengali. Jeff Herd, executive director, says it was a new creation and people might not have known what to expect. "Because we actually tour as well, we're finding all throughout North America things are changing. I think there's certainly concern about the economic impact in the world."
The RWB recently had to cancel three performances of Svengali in southern Ontario due to lack of ticket sales. But they did add an extra performance of The Nutcracker for later this month.
Stephen Borys, executive director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, believes having the NHL back actually brings more people downtown. And Herd agrees: "Absolutely. I'm a big fan of more is better. There's limited entertainment dollar, there's no doubt. Having the Jets here is great for us. But that does mean we have to adjust as we go."
Amanda Green as Trilby in Svengali (David Cooper)