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Season sponsor plays a major role in Chemainus Theatre productions

Duncan Iron Works puts the pedal to the metal for funding support of the arts

You could call them the Odd Couple. But it takes all kinds to make a place like the Chemainus Theatre continue to operate live theatre at such a high level.

A fabrication shop and the theatre would seem like complete opposites, but have formed a unique bond through the Duncan Iron Works show sponsorships that evolved into being a season sponsor.

“It seems like an odd pairing, but if businesses like ours don’t support the arts, the arts will disappear,” noted Brent Dellebuur, Duncan Iron Works general manager.

“There’s no way we could do what we do without having sponsors support it,” said Valerie Reynolds, the Chemainus Theatre Festival’s development manager.

This has been particularly true since COVID which required a great deal of resilience from the theatre plus business support to survive the shutdown.

Duncan Iron Works came on board in 2009 as a show sponsor for The Miracle Worker.

Starting in 2010, “we decided we would continue as a show sponsor, but we would only consider doing the summer musical,” Dellebuur indicated. “It was the longest run and the most exposure.”

DIW stepped up to become the season sponsor in 2017 during the theatre’s 25th anniversary.

“We were only going to do it for the 25th anniversary season, but it just continued on,” said Dellebuur.

The 2020 season only started with the first show, the Marvelous Wonderettes, before COVID shut the rest down, but Duncan Iron Works still made its substantial $20,000 contribution that year.

Reynolds said Duncan Iron Works helped out on matching campaigns with $5,000 toward the Crisis Relief Fund and Bridge The Gap plus $10,000 for the Return To Stage.

Related story: Funding campaigns help Chemainus Theatre stage a comeback

Duncan Iron Works went back to the $20,000 season sponsorship with the return of a full schedule on stage in 2022 and again this year.

Reynolds noted the combination of individual donors, show and season sponsors, and government funding plays a huge part in keeping the theatre going.

“The funding goes directly to the show – set-building, costumes (and more),” she said. “There’s so much that happens to put a show on stage.”

Dellebuur is usually first on the theatre’s list to call upon each year because his support is unwavering.

“Brent is always so very enthusiastic,” added Reynolds. “It’s a pleasure to see him come through the doors.”

Dellebuur is happy to do it.

“It’s amazing the number of people that come in here (Duncan Iron Works) and said ‘you’re the season sponsor,’” he pointed out.

“We’re committed to the arts in our community and that’s one of the ways we can pay it back. If we don’t support it, it goes away. We’re only a small contributor to their success.

“Honestly, it’s hard to say no to them,” he added, urged on by such a great creative team.

Dellebuur quipped the theatre is not in his DNA; it’s just as a partner and he’s always enjoyed live theatre.

He particularly looks forward to the sponsor recognition nights, but also just being in the theatre seats for each production and knowing his company played a major role in making it happen.

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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