Two-plus decades after he performed at Surrey Arts Centre and other local stages with Arts Club Theatre Company, Michael Bublé has stepped up to help the company’s re-opening campaign.
The Burnaby-raised superstar singer has created a personal video to encourage donations to the Arts Club’s “pivotal” fundraising campaign, on now to July 31. Proceeds will support the re-opening of the company’s three venues.
“The Arts Club theatre will always hold a special place in my heart,” Bublé says in the minute-long video, posted to the company’s Youtube channel.
“Without places like the Arts Club, there wouldn’t be close to as many opportunities for Canadian artists to learn and work and grow.”
A donation-matching campaign involves a $100,000 pledge from Longhedge Foundation, with details posted to secure.artsclub.com/donate.
After 15 months of suspended operations, the Arts Club is turning to the community for help as it emerges from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since the initial ban on public gatherings, 24 productions have been cancelled and, as a result, the Arts Club has laid off and cancelled contracts for over 660 artists and staff,” says a news release about the fundraising campaign. “The company has lost more than $13 million in ticket revenue.”
Founded in 1964, the Arts Club produced one-person shows last fall at its Newmont Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre and offered digital streaming, but all three of its venues now remain dark. Also on hold are touring productions, including the series that plays Surrey Arts Centre annually.
Back in 1998, Bublé starred in the Arts Club’s production of Dean Regan’s Swing! musical, the inaugural production at the refurbished Stanley Theatre in Vancouver.
Also that year, the original production of “Red Rock Diner” starred Bublé when the show toured to Surrey Arts Centre and other local stages. “I remember him well in that original production, and he was great,” Red Robinson said in 2015, about the show based on his adventures as a rock ‘n’ roll DJ.
Said Ashlie Corcoran, the Arts Club’s White Rock-raised artistic director: “We are very grateful that Michael is amplifying our message during this difficult time—a time when we’ve felt so buoyed by the support of our community. We look forward to welcoming theatre lovers in person and flourishing again.”
Meantime, the company has announced a series of free panel discussions in June that will feature a variety of prominent Vancouver theatre artists.
The “In Conversation: This Is Something Else” series will involve three live online panels that aim to take a deeper dive into the stories explored by the Arts Club-produced investigative podcast “This Is Something Else: Consciously Eclectic Histories of the Arts Club,” created and hosted by Andrew Kushnir.
“Each ‘In Conversation’ panel is designed to complement the podcast and invite audiences to reflect on different key themes that have shaped the local theatre ecosystem,” the company says of the series, to feature Carmen Aguirre, Marie Farsi and Omari Newton as facilitators; panelists will be announced later.
“Theatre As an Agent of Social Change” is scheduled for Tuesday, June 1 from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by “Beyond Panels: The Radical BIPOC Creators Changing the Face of Canadian Theatre” (June 15, 5 p.m.) and “Theatre Within Walls: The Battle for Venues in Vancouver” (June 29, 5 p.m.)
All events are free, with RSVP required on digital.artsclub.com/workshop. Panels will be held as Zoom video webinars, closed-captioning available.