POWELL RIVER, B.C. – There are changes afoot at the historic Patricia Theatre.
The Friends of the Historic Patricia Theatre Society has signed an agreement to purchase the theatre, noted Ann Nelson, who co-owns the theatre along with her son Brian.
The agreement will see the society buy the theatre from the Patricia Entertainment Company for $550,000.
According to the Powell River Peak newspaper, the society has until May 4, 2021, to complete the sale.
Nelson said “the only way to move forward with a succession plan” that ensures a community acquisition of the theatre and “ensures its sustainability into the future” was for the society to enter into an agreement for sale with the Patricia Entertainment Company.
Nelson said the $550,000 price was significantly lower than the building’s appraisal.
The society has until May 2021 to raise the funds to satisfy the agreement of sale, Nelson noted.
“They now have tenure to the property and unless they decide to abandon the project, they’re ensured the right to buy it out and continue operating it on behalf of the community,” Nelson explained. “What this is, is an intention to purchase that has been registered on title.”
The theatre, which celebrates its 90th birthday on Nov. 6, has a rich history.
When it opened in 1928, it was a silent movie house and Vera Evans from Vancouver was hired as an organist to entertain during intermission.
“It’s an important, iconic building both in terms of the national historic district and in terms of local history,” Nelson said. “A lot of people have had their courtships here, and they have brought their grandkids here… a long history.”
The purchase was a key and necessary step to sustain the theatre, according to Nelson.
“The only way to ensure that our isolated community continues to have access to the cultural enrichment provided by movies of all sorts… was for the community to actually own it and operate it,” Nelson said.
She added that a non-profit can actively solicit fundraising support from the community and the government for a heritage building.
“It’s a heritage icon in town site and we’ve worked so hard to raise the profile of awareness about it around the world, it now has become symbolic of the national historic district,” Nelson said, of the theatre.
“And it’s very important it survives, because it has become the image that’s imprinted on a lot of tourists’ minds about what their destination is (and) it’s the Patricia Theatre.”