Town Hall Meeting Starts with Plea to Maintain Aultsville Theatre Funding

Jason Setnyk
Town Hall Meeting Starts with Plea to Maintain Aultsville Theatre Funding
Brittney Waldroff, the General Manager of Aultsville Theatre, speaks to Council at a Town Hall meeting on January 29, 2024. Photo : Jason Setnyk

Cornwall, Ontario – At a Town Hall meeting hosted at City Hall in Cornwall on January 29, Brittney Waldroff, the General Manager of Aultsville Theatre, opened the session with an impassioned plea to the City Council. Her speech focused on the potential cuts to the funding provided by the City of Cornwall to Aultsville Theatre, which currently stands at $277,175 annually ($207,175 a year to St. Lawrence College for the lease of the space, and $70,000 to Aultsville Theatre’s Management Board to subsidize operations).

Waldroff emphasized the theatre’s significance since its reopening post-COVID, stating, “In our first full year since reopening after COVID, Aultsville hosted 62 events and was occupied for 98 days.” She highlighted Aultsville Theatre’s role as Cornwall’s premier venue, hosting local theatre groups, dance recitals, graduation ceremonies, and fundraisers  – serving over 25,000 guests in 2023.

As a non-profit organization led by a Board of Directors, Waldroff underscored that all fundraising efforts and net revenues are reinvested annually in the theatre. “Since 2012, over half a million in fundraised dollars have been reinvested in our Technical equipment and Front of house services,” Waldroff stated, illustrating the theatre’s commitment to continuous improvement.

With new equipment on the way for 2024, thanks to a successful grant application, Waldroff stressed the importance of the stable funding provided by the City of Cornwall. “The stability brought to our organization by the 2022 19-year MOU between the City and our Board is the foundation for our most recent grant success,” she explained.

Waldroff also made a notable reference to Ryan Gosling, a local celebrity, whose early experiences in front of a live audience took place at Aultsville Theatre. She used this example to illustrate the theatre’s role in nurturing talent and appealed to Council to consider the theatre’s value to the community, including its economic impact on local businesses.

City Councillors voiced their support for the theatre. Councillor Todd Bennett remarked before the Town Hall meeting, “Aultsville Theater offers our community something that would be greatly missed if we allowed it to be closed by cutting their budget.” He highlighted the unique experience Aultsville Theatre provides for quality of life.

Echoing this sentiment, Councillor Fred Ngoundjo stated, “Aultsville Theatre is essential for the survival of our community and to build Cornwall’s identity.” He expressed his support for continuing the funding, recognizing the theatre as a crucial cultural asset.

The meeting saw a significant turnout from supporters of the arts, indicating a strong backing for Aultsville Theatre by many in the community.

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