According to the recent letter to the editor from the Royal and McPherson Theatres Society, http://www.timescolo...ctoria-1.719269
- The playhouse has more than 50,000 patrons per year
- The city provides $400,000 annually for ongoing maintenance and infrastructure improvements
- The city provides $350,000 annually as an operating subsidy
So, the $30/ticket subsidy is more like $15. Obviously it'd be great if this place could support itself, but I wonder how this compares to other city owned facilities?
Those numbers seem more reasonable. That suggests two things to me for looking at the value of the McPherson. One is that (IMHO) the maintenance and infrastructure improvements are a very different thing than the operating subsidy. Money out of the taxpayers pocket to be sure, but maintaining an asset is different than making up for an operational loss. And the operating subsidy works out to more like $7 a ticket.
The other point is that I question whether we should view the McPherson in isolation, or as part of the McPherson/Royal package. The latter is how it is managed and how it is used. And maybe the Royal would not be in the position it is in (I'm not sure if it is subsidized to some extent, but I think it is clearly seen as a good value to the community and economy) without the McPherson. It is a lot easier to bring acts to town, and to provide for the needs of the local arts organizations if you have two theatres to avoid major scheduling conflicts. John Cleese doesn't make it to Victoria without the McPherson, as the Opera had the Royal booked. The Blue Bridge Theatre company would not exist without the availability of the McPherson. Both Dance Victoria and Pacific Opera Victoria have staged secondary, more experimental works at the McPherson that would not have filled the Royal. Ballet Victoria depends on the McPherson for some of its performances that would not be possible at the Royal for various reasons. The ability for groups to use the McPherson as a secondary or alternative venue keeps the groups healthy, and I suspect it is the regular dependable use of the Royal by these core organizations (Victoria Symphony, Pacific Opera Victoria, Dance Victoria, Ballet Victoria) that keep the Royal healthy.