Neptune Theatre pleads case for $100K in emergency funding from Halifax

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Neptune Theatre's request for one-time emergency funding of $100,000 by May has been sent to Halifax's audit and finance committee.

Neptune representatives made their case to the community and planning committee on Thursday.

"Neptune is a cultural landmark in the HRM and a cornerstone of the arts and entertainment industry," said Jeremy Webb, the theatre's artistic director. "We're formally requesting support to help us navigate these unprecedented challenges caused by the global pandemic."

Neptune has been shut down since March.

CBC
CBC

The theatre's general manager, Lisa Bugden, said the timing of the pandemic had a dramatic impact. COVID-19 restrictions began just as the season-ending musical Billy Elliott was about to open. Production work had already taken place, but revenues dried up.

Bugden said Neptune's annual musical typically raises 30 per cent of its revenues.

"Neptune is working with its suppliers and partners to structure repayment plans," explained Bugden. "Many of them are friends and neighbours in HRM."

Bugden pointed out that Neptune is a critical part of Halifax's downtown entertainment district and pumps $7.1 million into the local economy. When a show is on, up to 600 people attend every night.

Elizabeth McMillan/CBC
Elizabeth McMillan/CBC

Neptune wants the emergency funding to help it get ready to reopen.

"We must now plan for the future," said Webb. "We are currently working to have performances again in the late summer and have Nova Scotians safely return to the theatre."

Coun. Sam Austin, a member of the community planning committee, acknowledged that it has "been quite a year," but added he is not sure if HRM should get involved with COVID-19 relief.

The audit and finance committee is scheduled to meet Feb. 11.

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