The Palace Theater Arts Commons is asking the City of London to match an already deferred $78,749.83 loan that will help the theater recover from damage caused by COVID-19 lockdowns.
According to a letter from councilors John Fyfe-Millar and Jesse Helmer, who supported the motion, the City granted the Palace Theater the interest-free loan to pay for “urgent repairs” to the theater’s walls after they were damaged by water.
“The Palace Theater is a pillar of the Old East Village and a driving force in its revival,” her letter reads. “The benefits to businesses and residents are far-reaching, and we believe this investment in the village will have long-term benefits for the community as a whole.”
That “stimulus loan,” which was part of the city’s municipal improvement plan, has been delayed until later this month.
In addition to asking for the Palace Theater loan to be forgiven, Fyfe-Millar and Helmer want to further defer similar loans granted to other community groups until December.
The Palace Theater Arts Commons is asking the city to forgive a $78,749.83 loan. (James Chaarani/CBC)
“I don’t think it sets a precedent”
“I think this will spark some debate in Council, which I think is important at the end of the day,” Fyfe-Millar said.
The issue will be discussed at the city’s Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee on March 8.
“I don’t think it sets a precedent. I think this is an inquiry and will be treated like any other inquiry in the city and see where it ends up,” he said.
The Palace Theater originally asked for a $100,000 grant from the city for the necessary repairs, but instead received the “special loan,” theater chairman Kelli Gough said in a letter to the council.
Gough wrote that they were able to stay afloat during COVID-19 with grants from the London Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Trillium Grant. They also relied on things like Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Emergency Business Account, and donations from well-wishers.
“The Palace Theater is an important piece for our arts community and I think we need to make sure it has every opportunity to evolve, so to speak,” said Fyfe-Millar.
Palace Theater Arts Commons was formed in February 2020 through the merger of the London Fringe Festival and London Community Players.