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Council comes to the aid of MY Place

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Council has answered an urgent financial plea from Maurice Young Millennium Place with a $150,000 cheque to help with current cash-flow problems.

"We need the help," said Rob Schwartz, general manager of Millennium Place.

"There’s no doubt about that."

The money will be come in two forms. The municipality will give the centre a $50,000 grant in aid. That money will cover operating shortfalls from the past year and will also be used for deposits for performances in the coming year.

A further $100,000 will be given to MY Place in the form of a loan, to be paid back over the next 12 months.

The loan will be used for some of the cash flow problems the centre is currently experiencing and cover unforeseen expenses.

This is the first time MY Place, which melds churches, community facilities and theatre performances into one venue, has asked for financial help from the municipality for operating costs. The municipality guaranteed a $3.5 million short-term mortgage and provided an emergency loan to cover construction costs.

MY Place costs roughly half a million dollars to run every year. Officials thought that money could be raised through revenues from productions as well as fundraising and various grants.

"We’ve never gone to the municipality before because we wanted to do it on our own," said Schwartz.

"That just may not be realistic in that there are, to my understanding, no theatres out there or very, very few performance venues that don’t have government support."

Officials at MY Place scrambled to get help from the municipality after a large grant from the B.C. Lottery and Gaming Commission failed to materialize this summer.

That $120,000 grant fell through because of the organizational structure of MY Place. The board is reviewing this structure now and will be resubmitting their grant application to the Commission in the future.

Stephen Milstein, chair of the Millennium Place board, added that there is a further $120,000 worth of grant applications ready to go out at the moment.

"Council has been good enough to say, ‘look, let’s not operate on the edge anymore,’" he said.

"They know we’re fundraising. They know we have grant applications out there. And they’re saying ‘let’s cover that.’"

Very little money was raised this year through fundraising efforts, said Milstein.

"The fundraising economy in the last year – and we know what happened with the library and what’s happened with the economy – has been awful," he said.

"We also know what the resort has been like in the last four months, so the revenues from users (in that time period) has been way, way, way, way down."

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