Oliver theatre forced to cancel, postpone shows due to provincial health orders they think need not apply

'Penalized for no reason'

The Venables Theatre in Oliver is postponing and cancelling some scheduled shows following new public health measures laid out by the province last week.

All events at the theatre scheduled prior to Dec. 7 have been cancelled or postponed following provincial health orders banning social gatherings, even in theatres with appropriate safety measures and events with less than 50 people attending.

Mike Delamont’s Socially Distanced Stand-Up Comedy show scheduled for Nov. 28 has been cancelled. Two shows included in the Venables Alive series featuring local artists have been postponed including Great White North and Kristi Neumann.

The shows will likely be moved to February at the earliest, according to theatre manager Leah Foreman, though it is still unclear when shows will be permitted to resume.

The theatre is one of the few in the region to continue to operate successfully during the pandemic, however the new public health measures are throwing a wrench into the works.

“We were having really good success with our shows. Lots of people were coming out to see them. We were keeping people safe and people and people felt comfortable here so I think we were doing great,” Foreman said. “But I mean, we’re all in this together and now we just have to hunker down.”

The successful operation at the Venables since it reopened this fall is in part due to the support the theatre receives from the community.

“We used all our tools we had. We talked to health officials, I’ve been on calls with venues across the province just talking about best practices and how do we all do this. Then I felt confident that I had the information on it that I needed and the logistics and stuff in order to reopen. I think it was just a matter of being really knowledgable about what was going on,” Foreman said.

“I think one of the reasons we were able to do it was just the fact that we have such great support from our community and we were able to focus on figuring this out.”

Following last week’s public health orders, movie theatres remained open over the weekend in B.C. — which was considered a bit of a thorn in the side of the Venables Theatre management — however, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry clarified Monday that the public health order cancelling events applied to movie theatres as well.

However, Foreman still questions why bars and pubs can operate safely while the theatre is ordered to shut down for at least two weeks.

“We aren’t a social gathering. You come in, you watch a show, you leave. You’re not congregating in the lobby, you’re enjoying a show in a socially-distanced way. So we did feel that we were being penalized for no reason,” Foreman said.

The Venables box office is now open by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, call 250-498-1626. Most refunds can be done over the phone or will be processed automatically.

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