Dr. Donald Hilton and Joyce Hilton of Chemainus have pledged $50,000 toward a matched funding campaign benefiting the Chemainus Theatre Crisis Relief Fund.
“We’ve lived in this area for close to 50 years now. We’ve been part of the community, and the theatre has been a prime place in our lives. We’ve gone to most of the productions they’ve had over their 26 years,” Dr. Donald Hilton said.
When the Chemainus Theatre announced the cancellation of their 2020 season, the Hiltons became concerned about the theatre employees losing their jobs. Since they have been such avid theatre-goers over the years, many of the staff at Chemainus Theatre are also their friends.
“It really brought it close to home as to the meaning of this on how it affects people,” Hilton said.
The Chemainus Theatre had a record-breaking year in 2019. Their smash hit production of Mama Mia broke the all-time sales record, and other productions in the year were sold out or operated with at least 75 per cent capacity. Coming off a year of all-time high success to a grinding halt has been “devastating”, Chemainus Theatre managing director, Randal Huber said.
“It’s devastating. It really is. There’s no glory in un-producing a show, and trying to undo all of our planning we’ve put into place for this current season. It’s just heart-wrenching to pull it all apart.”
Average annual operating costs for the Chemainus Theatre are more than $3 million — with most of that budget coming from box office revenue. The Hilton’s gift, if fully matched, will raise $100,000 for the theatre. Those funds will help the Chemainus Theatre ‘bridge the gap’ until they reopen.
“It’s a meaningful campaign. It puts us in a much better place going forward than we were prior to this gift,” Huber said.