On December 1st, Students’ Council will vote on regardless of whether to use the Sustainability and Cash Fund to renovate the Myer Horowitz Theatre, a project believed to value $17.5 million.
The renovation has arguably been the major target of the Students’ Union (SU) in excess of the past 4 a long time and, as this kind of, the vote promises to be a pivotal moment in the enhancement of our campus group.
On the other hand, right after four a long time and many updates about the undertaking, there are however a lot of remarkable issues about no matter whether the costly renovation is genuinely to the advantage of college students.
The fundamental rationale for the Myer Horowitz renovation has largely remained the identical considering that the challenge was 1st proposed in June 2016. Considering the fact that the theatre has not been renovated given that 1983, numerous of the furnishings and know-how within just the theatre has grow to be out-of-date. By renovating and increasing the area, the SU hopes to make the Hyer Horowitz far more attractive for scholar groups and external clientele to lease.
Eventually, advocates of the renovation argue this will obtain two targets. Initial, the renovation proposal guarantees to make a campus neighborhood hub — a location the place students from across diverse schools can arrive collectively to maintain events for a low price. The 2nd target is to diversify the SU’s revenue streams and reduce their reliance on university student service fees, as some imagine a recently renovated theatre will attract more third events to rent the Myer Horowitz.
All round, the aims them selves aren’t poor. The pandemic has highlighted the value of our campus neighborhood and that learners ought to get benefit from our costs. Still, when we look closer at the information, it’s questionable if renovating the Myer Horowitz certainly achieves these plans.
Very first, I stay unconvinced that scholar groups will be inclined to use a freshly-renovated theatre for occasions. Now, the Myer Horowitz is generally used by external groups alternatively than by learners. In reality, college student functions only comprised 36 per cent of the theatre’s occasion times in 2019. I see couple of factors to think that a renovation will change this.
To be fair, advocates of the project do identify this is an situation. In buy to test and bring in far more student teams, the SU hopes to provide reduce fees for university student occasions and will discover new forms of partnerships for university student teams, these kinds of as a “revenue-sharing” design. The information of this design are continue to to be created.
Continue to, I struggle to see the program drawing college students to the theatre. It is unclear why student teams — who are often short on funds — would pay out cash to rent the theatre, even at a decreased price, when there are different venues on campus that are less expensive or outright free. Even if the theatre is a considerably nicer room, we’re university learners: if we can get one thing for totally free, that’s the path we’ll typically consider.
Outside of this, a renovation does not always assurance an boost in revenue. Newer seats, better know-how, and a bigger lobby will make the theatre unquestionably far better. At the conclude of the working day, on the other hand, the Myer Horowitz nonetheless has to contend with quite a few other superior-end event areas in Edmonton, which include University’s personal Lister Centre and Timms Centre on campus. If the SU is really serious about pursuing this renovation, there should be responsible estimates above how a lot gain a renovated Myer Horowitz could hope to raise.
This is specially significant when we seem at the Myer Horowitz’s present-day earnings. In accordance to the most recent audited fiscal statements on the SU’s website, the theatre designed a income of approximately fifty percent a million bucks in 2018. Even so, factoring in operating charges, the Myer Horowitz designed a web financial gain of just more than $64,000 that year. Considering the fact that the renovation costs $17.5 million, it’s vital to at least estimate how substantially profit we could expect from a new theatre.
Offered these factors, the Students’ Council really should strongly rethink no matter whether or not this expensive renovation will achieve its supposed targets. I have an understanding of the enchantment of the project — I’d love to have a room in which students can arrive together as a group that also raises dollars. Having said that, until more facts are introduced, we can’t say with reasonable certainty that a renovated Myer Horowitz theatre is this best area.
In its place, here’s what we can say with certainty about the undertaking. Very first, the renovation’s value tag has continually gone up considering that it was very first proposed in 2016. Originally, the project was believed to price $11 million and $9.5 million was intended to be raised via different funding resources, such as grants or donations. As this sort of, the SU would’ve only financed $1.5 million of the undertaking — however not low-priced but not an outrageous sum.
4 years later on and the most up-to-date proposal bears small financial resemblance to the unique. In accordance to a presentation on November 23, 2020 the complete venture now expenses $17.5 million and the SU only estimates to gain $1.3 to $4.7 million in option funding. This leaves the SU with a invoice of all over $12.9 to $16.2 million — over 8 periods the volume they envisioned to pay out in 2016.
The only other certainty is that the SU has struggled to get students on board with the venture. This is greatest witnessed by way of the Student Functions Initiative (SEI). The SEI would’ve billed learners a rate of $8.50 a semester in order to finance the renovation, together with a few other grants for pupil groups. Nevertheless, the campus community rejected the SEI in a referendum, successfully killing the proposal. The SU then tried out to acquire funding for the course of action again via the Scholar Areas Levy, a similar rate. Nonetheless, it was decisively defeated at Students’ Council right before it could go to referendum, as councillors felt that they did not have more than enough time to appraise the proposal.
The SU ultimately succeeded in reaching new profits resources previous yr, when the Sustainability and Money Fund (SCF) passed a college student referdrum. On the other hand, the SCF was not a referendum about renovating the Myer Horowitz. The SCF was about building a fund for assignments which address environmental and economic sustainability concerns, this kind of as weather change and deferred servicing. Whilst the Myer Horowitz renovation may well arguably drop into this class, no 1 ought to error the SCF referendum as learners pledging their help for the renovation.
Hunting at the evolution of the task, SU associates will need to significantly check with by themselves whether or not the Myer Horowitz renovation will serve the wants of students.
Learners be expecting to get price from their charges. If Students’ Council decides to fund the expensive Myer Horowitz theatre renovation challenge, they much better be certain students see price in the task and that the task will undoubtedly deliver on its promised outcomes. Provided the issues remaining unanswered more than the past 4 years, I’m not guaranteed any scholar representative can be specified it does.