Match made in heaven? Victoria arts groups turning to churches as venues
Arts columnist says renting to arts groups a win-win for churches and artists
All Points West arts columnist Amanda Farrell-Low says arts groups in Victoria and other cities are increasingly seeking sanctuary.
By that, she means they are using churches as venues for their work, which is often a win-win for the artists and the church.
"Faith-based organizations often own prime real estate that they are hoping to keep occupied, or generate a bit of revenue from, in the wake of congregations changing," she told All Points West guest host David Lennam. "And renting to a non-profit arts group provides not only a tax break, but an opportunity to support a creative organization."
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She says local examples include the Canadian College of Performing Arts' use of St. Mary's Church in Oak Bay, and Pacific Opera Victoria's use of a building owned by the Anglican Diocese and operated by St. John the Divine for their offices and a performance space.
Loss of spaces would be 'crippling'
Pacific Opera Victoria CEO Ian Rye says arts organizations and faith-based organizations actually have more in common than one might think.
"We have our congregations, our membership, we are service organizations to our community, we are mission-based organizations operating on a not-for-profit basis," he said. "So I do think this is an important trend around North America, … these are excellent partners."
Paul Destrooper, artistic director of Ballet Victoria, agreed.
They use St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church and he says having a shared space agreement can take some getting used to, especially because congregations have a strong sense of ownership over their facility.
"There's a couple of organists there, so they're always practising, rehearsing," he said. "So it's a bit like living with the Phantom of the Opera: that organ is going all day, every day."
Destrooper says the loss of a church space would be "crippling" for the ballet, and would keep them out of Downtown Victoria and have a serious impact on their bottom line.
"We would have to be somewhere in a barn. Or an industrial area," he said.
With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West
To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Match made in heaven? Victoria arts groups turning to churches as venues