The sounds of acrimonious debate at Port Moody’s Inlet Theatre could soon be soothed by live music.
City council has referred a request to launch a series of live concerts in the civic venue, which also serves as its chambers for weekly meetings, to staff for further study.
The concerts are the brainchild of Darlene Cooper and Bill Sample, Port Moody residents and professional musicians who’ve performed and organized music events around Metro Vancouver for 40 years.
Cooper told councillors on Tuesday (Dec. 7) the loss of Gallery Bistro in a massive fire in 2019 has left a huge hole in the city’s performance scene. The small restaurant on Clarke Street regularly hosted open mic nights and intimate concerts by local and visiting musicians.
Cooper said the Inlet Theatre’s 159 permanent seats, raised stage and professional sound system could help reinvigorate local concerts in a variety of musical genres such as the Sheri Ulrich Band, Norm Foote or Port Coquitlam jazz musician Jodi Proznick.
“Having a great music venue would be a real cultural boost to our community,” she said of the series that would start next September.
Sample added, “People have to travel from Port Moody to hear some live music and this will help change that.”
But to make the series of six to nine concerts a year economically viable so musicians can get paid and ticket prices kept affordable, the couple told council they’d need support like a waiver of rental fees and help promoting the shows through the city’s website and event calendars.
According to Port Moody’s 2022 rate schedule, the fee to rent Inlet Theatre for an hour will be $196 Sundays to Thursdays, and $208 on Fridays and Saturdays. There’s additional charges for front of house staff as well as technicians.
Coun. Hunter Madsen said while he applauds the idea, he’s concerned about the city financially supporting a ticketed event unless proceeds are being donated to a good cause or everyone involved is volunteering their services. He’s also worried about finding time in the theatre’s busy schedule that includes council and public meetings, theatrical productions and films.
Coun. Diana Dilworth called the prospect of regular musical concerts in the theatre “exciting. I think it’s going to get a whole new audience.”
Coun. Amy Lubik said the series could fill “that hole in our hearts when we lost Gallery Bistro.”
Once staff has compiled its report, the idea will return to council for further consideration at a future meeting.