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RQM council waives rent for Astor Theatre

·2 min read

The Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) council has voted in favour of waiving a total of $6,500 in rent due to it.

The vote, at the April 13 council meeting, was in response to a letter to the council from Astor Theatre Society chairman John Simmonds. In it, Simmonds requested that the council waive the remaining rent of $2,000 owed by Astor for the 2020-21 season, and the $4,500 it owes to December 31, 2021.

Council voted unanimously in favour of the waiver.

“It’s a valuable cultural asset for Liverpool. Things had been working really well up until COVID-19,” commented RQM Mayor Darlene Norman. “They had an amazing line-up, and they were really starting to step things up in activity when the pandemic crippled them.”

The current five-year lease between RQM and the Astor Society was signed in June 2020.

Rent for the Astor Theatre was set at $6,000 per year. As the lease was signed during the pandemic and the theatre was not open, a reduced rent of $3,000 was approved for the first year of the term (2020-21).

Simmonds said that by absorbing the rent he and his group of volunteers would be able to focus on re-building a strong line-up of movies, plays and recitals.

“By allowing us to operate rent-free for the balance of the year, we can maintain operations, continue to provide services and start to build the strong calendar of shows and concerts that the people of Queens so desperately need. In part, the health and well being of our fellow citizens are at risk,” Simmonds suggested in his letter of request.

The Astor Theatre Society closed its doors in March 2020 for several months with little or no activity. A return to hosting more live events began with the Winds of Change drama society taking to the stage for three performances April 9 to 11 while following COVID-19 protocols.

Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin