Theatre's sparse lineup worries businesses
Locals worried Summerside Harbourfront Theatre's lack of shows won't attract as many tourists
Some businesses in Summerside say they're discouraged by the Harbourfront Theatre's sparse lineup this summer.
There's nothing booked to be on stage for much of the season and businesses are worried that will mean fewer tourists spending money in Summerside.
Mark Gaudet, bar manager at Deckhouse Pub in Summerside, told CBC News that business picks up when there’s a show playing next door.
"We get a lot of residual business from them before and after the show," he said. "I'd say it doubles."
But for the next month, there's not a single show booked to be on stage at the Harbourfront Theatre.
For the past six summers, the musical Anne and Gilbert has kept the theatre busy.
But in April, theatre management announced the musical won't be on this year because it was losing money.
Keiran Keller, general manager for the Harbourfront Theatre, said the province and the city used to each give $25,000 for summer productions.
"From the province, we don't know whether or not we're getting any summer programming, and from the city, right now we're not getting anything to program anything in the summer," Keller said. "So we're doing what we can with what we have."
A local production Whose Wives are they Anyway will be on stage for four days in late July, followed by the musical Nunsense for all of August.
But for the first half of the summer tourist season, the stage will be empty.
Darcia Burnett, one of the new owners of the Lobster House Restaurant and Oyster Bar, said she was counting on the Harbourfront to help drum up business.
"Quite unhappy about that," Burnett said, "I mean the tourist business has been down the last couple summers, so it hurts."
Burnett said she is thankful there are some other tourist draws in the city this summer.
"We're having the motorcade, the motorcycles are coming the end of June. There's going to be big events in August with the air show, and lots of events Canada Day," she said.
Keller said he and the theatre board are using the down time to plan the Harbourfront's future and to figure out how to make it profitable.