True North takes over Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg

Winnipeg's historic Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts has officially been taken over by True North Sports and Entertainment.
The 107-year-old Burton Cummings Theatre is getting a facelift and renewed energy from True North Sports and Entertainment. (Google Street View)

Winnipeg's historic Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts has officially been taken over by True North Sports and Entertainment.

In a news release issued on Monday, True North — which owns the MTS Centre and the Winnipeg Jets — said that effective April 15 they have assumed management and operating control of the theatre.

“This is a very significant opportunity for us to expand our entertainment footprint in Winnipeg," Kevin Donnelly, senior vice president and general manager of the MTS Centre stated in the release.

Burton Cummings Theatre

Originally known as the Walker Theatre, The Burt was constructed in 1906-07 and was part of a circuit through the Red River Valley that brought in Broadway-style shows. It was converted a movie cinema in 1945 and in 1991 it was reopened as a venue for live performances.

That same year it was designated a National Historic Site of Canada and a Provincial Heritage Site. And in 2002, it was renamed after former Guess Who lead singer Burton Cummings, who donated a portion of proceeds from a string of concerts at the theatre to help pay down the debt.

He called the theatre "the windowpane to Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District."

Under the lease agreement, True North will provide programming and entertainment expertise to the 107-year-old former vaudeville theatre.

Donnelly said True North will tap into its partnerships and promoter relationships to boost the quality of shows to the Burt, as it is commonly known, and do a number of upgrades to the facility.

A newly-appointed board has been created to help govern the transition of the theatre into "this exciting new era of entertainment growth in Winnipeg," stated the release from True North.

The board members are as follows:

  • Jim Ludlow, board chair (president and CEO, True North)
  • Ginette Lavack Walters (CEO, Festival du Voyageur)
  • Carole Vivier (CEO, Manitoba Film & Music)​
  • Wayne Jackson (former GM of the Burton Cummings Theatre)
  • Kenny Boyce (manager of films and special events, City of Winnipeg)
  • Ross McGowan (CEO, CentreVenture)
  • Paul Jordan, (COO, Forks North Portage Partnership)
  • Wayne Perfumo (VP, Hospitality & Entertainment Services, MB Liquor & Lotteries)
  • David Sherman, past chair (partner in POP Sports & Entertainment)
  • Kevin Donnelly, Treasurer (senior VP True North)