RuBarb May get Temporary Reprieve

Robert Thomas

It didn't take very long to get an answer but it seems there is a possibility that RuBarb Productions may get a reprieve from their June 30th eviction notice.

Immediately following the news conference called by the theatre company to request public assistance and support in an effort to keep the theatre troupe in the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre, the facility's General Manager, Derik Cronan told MJ Independent there was a possibility RuBarb could stay until the end of September.

"On Monday there is a board meeting; the extent of it was to re-visit previous discussions of their (RuBarb) being gone by the end of the month," Cronan said.

With RuBarb the only tenant until the end of September there would be no effect on space requirements until then on the Cultural Centre's operations, he said, which may allow the board to agree to letting them stay until that time.

Cronan took MJ Independent on a tour of the Cultural Centre to illustrate it was space, and nothing else, which dictated the Cultural Centre's Board's decision. 

Derek Cronan standing beside some of the shared space and all of the things stored

Derek Cronan standing beside some of the shared space and all of the things stored

Cronan also wanted to clarify that some of the statements made at the news conference did not reflect the total reality of the situation. One of those being that RuBarb had cleared up a $4331 debt only yesterday. At the news conference RuBarb had stated the debt was only $105.

He stressed that the reason for asking RuBarb to leave was based entirely on space.

During the news conference given by former chair and now RuBarb board member, Glenn Hagel, he called for cooperation and collaboration between RuBarb and the Cultural Centre to enhance culture in the City. He saw enhancing culture as a common goal of both sides.

"The Cultural Centre was built and owned by the City to enhance the vitality and culture in the city...there is a lot in common in why we exist ," Hagel said, adding "If people speak up to get us collaborating and working together."

The news conference was told that RuBarb had three requests.

The first was to ask people to support RuBarb staying in the Cultural Centre, at least on a temporary basis, by contacting councillors and Mayor Frasier Tolmie and request them to intervene to make it possible.

Hagel said the theatre company was asking to remain in the Cultural Centre until the end of the year, the end of the very busy summer season or at least allow the box office to remain.


He asked for people to "ask the Mayor and City Councillors to facilitate a compromise."

The second was to support the GoFundMe campaign started to raise money to help RuBarb with the move. 

Hagel spoke about the "significant expense and financial strain" claiming it "is extremely difficult at this time."

It cost RuBarb $10,000 to upgrade electrical and computer lines to move into the Cultural Centre last July. The investment was substantial for a theatre company and was made under the pretext of remaining in the Cultural Centre for five years as part of the agreement signed in 2017.

Hagel spoke at length about the financial challenges faced by all professional theatre companies and RuBarb being no different but as a registered charity and non-profit contributors can be issued income tax receipts.

The third was for people to go out and support RuBarb by purchasing tickets to their performances.

"At the end of the day come out and have a good time," Hagel said.

RuBarb is producing three productions this summer as part of its theatre festival. Hagel said presently RuBarb is attracting 50 percent of its audience from outside Moose Jaw which brings money into the city. Additionally it has children's Summer theatre activities.

The productions include the Yellow Brick Road, an overview of RuBarb presentations over the years. Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, to be held in conjunction with Festival of Words. And the children's classic Mary Poppins.

As part of the Mary Poppins performance children from RuBarb's school of performing arts would have "their dreams come true alongside professional performers in Saskatchewan."

Hagel said theatre helped young people get over the "fear from speaking in front of groups" and it helped give people confidence in being the leaders of tomorrow. 

Other benefits of having a theatre company are that it helps attract professionals, such as doctors, to move to the City, as well as it was shown that communities with cultural opportunities are more vibrant and healthy the news conference was told.

Asked by MJ Independent if having live theatre productions during the summer helped attract tourists. Hagel said the theatre festival helped make Moose Jaw a destination where people weren't just stopping in but staying longer.

As an example of the economic potential, last Summer saw a bus tour from the United States make the city and RuBarb's productions their destination. 

At the news conference, Sarah Simson, Executive Director from the Saskatchewan Festival of Words said "RuBarb has been a great neighbour and respectful."

"We really support RuBarb being here and hate to see them leave," Simson said.

Hagel said he had spoken to Mayor Tolmie who was receptive to having both sides work together on the issue.

The Mayor was not available to comment on the issue and express his views on Friday.

It needs to be noted that even if RuBarb must move out of the Cultural Centre their stage productions will still take place there because that is a separate contract.

Whether the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre Board will give RuBarb some type of reprieve may happen as early as Monday night.

For those who wish to help RuBarb financially the GoFundMe page right here.


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