Ryan Donn says it’s the biggest risk he has taken since taking over operations at the Creekside Theatre in Winfield.
Donn has booked Canadian star Bif Naked for an intimate concert at Creekside, banking on a sellout for the well-known act who has branched out from singing into acting and poetry during an eclectic career.
“It’s a bigger act than Creekside can actually accommodate from a budget perspective,” said Donn. “I took a risk. I have to sell out the show to break even. Normally the business model is you sell 50 per cent of the tickets to break even and then the artist takes a cut of the profit.”
While Bif Naked’s impending show on Nov. 4 is being hailed as a major booking for the theatre, Creekside is also reviewing its rental fees to keep community events from leaving town. The well-known Angel Awards held its event at Creekside Theatre earlier this year for the first time since its inception. Created and built as a fundraiser to support Lake Country native Elise Boisvert and her battle against juvenile idiopathic arthritis, it was a major success for the Angel Awards organizers but, due to rental costs, the show will be back in Kelowna in 2017.
Donn said a few rental groups have commented that Creekside is a bit expensive compared to other venues and that led to the review.
“Staff have been in the midst of reviewing our fees for the theatre and will be going to council this fall to look at possibly reducing some costs while also charging some fees consistently to all rentals,” he said. “Our goal is to ensure we have a vibrant theatre that is also accessible to our local groups and renters.”
Donn said he’s hopeful that the Angel Awards will return in 2018 to Lake Country. As far as bringing in an act with the presence of Canadian icon Bif Naked, he says it will go a long way in helping Creekside grow.
“I talk to a lot of people who have never heard of Creekside and while that might be surprising (In Lake Country), a lot of people in the Central Okanagan don’t know there is a theatre within eight minutes of the airport,” he said, “I really feel this is a show that could help change that. It’s a different demographic for us. Most of the shows that have sold out have been more senior audiences.”
As of Monday, sales had gone well with about 85 per cent of the 262-seat theatre sold, indicating it likely will sell out. Donn says part of the plan is to diversify the audience and the acts presented at Creekside.
“I fully expect that the theatre will see a large jump in usage in 2017,” he said. “So far we have two more large dance rentals and a large number of new event inquires.”
As far as the Angel Awards, organizer Louise Boisvert said she would love to host the event at Creekside Theatre in Lake Country but it was significantly cheaper to book into the Rotary Centre in Kelowna for the event, which raised an estimated $5,000 this year for the Arthritis Society of Canada.”
‘It just makes so much sense to have our event here in Lake Country,” she said. “It was fantastic this year. I had people saying this year was the best show we have had and the support from the community was incredible. The whole purpose of the show is to support one of our own.”