Save The Matchbox

When an organization in the community finds itself in crisis, Red Deerians are known to step up to the plate to help out.

We’ve seen this many times before and hope the tradition continues as a very important organization will be forced to close its doors at the end of May – unless a financial breakthrough surfaces.

The Matchbox Theatre recently announced that operations would cease May 27 because of a lack of financial support from a number of sources.

Matt Grue, general manager of the theatre, said the province has provided support in the past but this year, there just isn’t enough money to go around.

This means the much-needed funds have to come from other sources, such as local corporations, private individuals and the City of Red Deer.

The City has, for a long time, encouraged a stronger arts component within the community. Back in 2003, Red Deer was also designated as a Cultural Capital of Canada – a title whose legacy we should do everything we can to hold onto.

At that time, there was not even a whole lot of entertainment choices to pick from in Red Deer compared to now.

Currently, we have Red Deer College theatre studies, Central Alberta Theatre, Tree House Youth Theatre among others. There are also a number of venues including the Scott Block, the Arts Centre, and the refurbished CAT studios in the heart of downtown Red Deer.

But The Matchbox provides something unique and different with its stylish, sophisticated vibe and nicely designed foyer. Fortunately, Ignition Theatre, which has been housed at The Matchbox, has found a home at the Nickel Studio. But it’s not quite the same as what The Matchbox has to offer the critically-acclaimed professional theatre company.

The Matchbox Theatre has also proven to be one of the most successful venues overall for arts and entertainment in Red Deer since it first opened four years ago. There have been more than 400 shows from plays to concerts. It’s a growing hot spot for award-winning performers, and the community has really responded by consistently filling the seats for a range of productions and shows.

We feel that it’s the City’s duty to be among the first to step forward with at least some offer of assistance.

In the past, council has helped CAT with their new downtown location, they’ve given loans to the SPCA and the River Bend Golf Course. So we are left wondering why council isn’t prepared to assist in this particular case.

They need to take a serious look at this and support the arts culture that they’ve so long been working to establish.