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Fredericton Playhouse reports highest level of facility usage in its history

by on September 27, 2011

In its annual report to Fredericton City Council, The Fredericton Playhouse reported one of its busiest years since the facility came under its current management 11 years ago. Tim Yerxa, Executive Director of the city’s major performing arts venue, outlined the 2010-11 season results to councillors last night, reporting that 102 different productions were offered this past year. The Main Stage was in use for 226 days last season, and a record 158 performances took place, resulting in 60,757 seats being occupied for ticketed events.

In a time when many organizations are struggling with economic downturns and increasing competition for peoples’ entertainment time and dollars, The Playhouse continues to engage the public with a diverse offering of performances. “Our overall attendance this year is very much in keeping with our average numbers from season to season, but it’s our steady increase in performance offerings that has us breaking records this time around,” said Yerxa. “Not only are we continuing to offer a stellar line-up of culturally diverse performances, but we’re seeing the highest levels of usage in our history through our own programming and through local, regional, and national organizations renting the facility.”

In addition to increased usage, Yerxa reported a year of new partnerships with arts, education, and social organizations, as well as another successful partnership with Theatre New Brunswick to remount The Bricklin: An Automotive Fantasy for 15 performances.

Says Yerxa, “The production returned this year as an established and successful play on the main stage, which is very rare for a new musical in Canada, and we’re thrilled with the response. With over 3,400 seats filled, it was a hit.”

Yerxa also outlined the growth of the Playhouse’s education and outreach programs, which are supported largely by private donation through its Friends of the Fredericton Playhouse program. Through school programs and community outreach work, the Playhouse offered subsidized and complimentary tickets to individuals and families who have economic, cultural or other barriers to participation. Over 4,000 people accessed the Playhouse’s education and outreach programs last season.

“We are here for everyone,” says Yerxa, “and sometimes we need to give people a hand so that they can experience the magic of live performance.”

Looking ahead, the Playhouse outlined its current season’s plans including its flagship Spotlight Series, which brings in national and international productions in music, dance, and theatre; its intentions to look at continued shared services, partnerships and physical integration with The Fredericton Convention Centre; to invest in new technologies, and to develop a new business plan and volunteer strategy.

Looking to the future, City Council was asked to consider a long-term plan for the Playhouse through a partnership on a 2012 study to determine a desired infrastructure renewal plan. A 2007 study commissioned by the Playhouse determined that the facility is near the end of its useful life and will need an extensive refurbishment or replacement.

Considering the high levels of activity the facility has achieved, the Playhouse expects that future growth will be difficult to achieve with its current physical limitations.

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