Stories to fuel your mind

Vancouver Civic Theatres

Overseeing The City’s Hallowed Venues

Share the story

Story by Joe Leary
Photos supplied by VCT

Vancouver Civic Theatres (VCT), owned and operated by the City of Vancouver, is so much more than a collective of performance venues. It’s an invaluable arts and culture hub in our city, committed to serving both patrons and artists alike.

The venues in VCT’s portfolio are some of Vancouver’s most heralded: The Queen Elizabeth Theatre (QET) and its adjunct, Vancouver Playhouse, on Hamilton Street; the historic Orpheum Theatre on Granville Street and its accompanying black box theatre on Seymour Street, the Annex. They have also played a significant role in our city’s rich history.

Dating back to 1927, the venerable Orpheum theatre holds the distinction of being designated a National Historic Site of Canada. It was once a vaudeville house and then a cinema before becoming a live performance space for many arts organizations, including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.  The QET has continued to host an impressive list of internationally renowned artists since it opened in 1959, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in attendance for a gala performance. The Vancouver Playhouse followed in 1962, becoming a home to local and visiting theatre, music and dance companies, while the Annex, the most recent addition to the VCT family, opened its doors in 2010 to provide a spotlight for emerging artists and performance groups

A civic organization since 1961, VCT’s venue spaces have hosted touring theatrical engagements, award-winning Broadway productions, the best stand-up comedians in the business, classical, rock, and pop concerts, and the like, numbering roughly more than 800 events per year, entertaining some 800,000 guests annually in the process.

The VCT vision is to amplify arts, culture, entertainment, and community for the city of Vancouver, says Natalie Lue, Director of Vancouver Civic Theatres. Our mission is to provide a welcoming place to experience the world together, and to develop, enhance, and promote Vancouver’s vibrant arts scene.

With the mandate to lasting relationships with local non-profi ts and arts organizations, VCT provides culture enthusiasts with access to an endless array of arts and entertainment opportunities.

“We aim to create an immersive experience that not only entertains but also weaves laughter and community into our collective spirit”

Major Broadway productions including The Phantom of the Opera and Hamilton, and next summer’s blockbuster, Disney’s Frozen, grace VCT’s stages. From the Just for Laughs Vancouver Comedy Festival to international and local dance productions and symphony performances, the objective of Vancouver Civic Theatres is simple: To offer the community a myriad of transformative arts and culture encounters while remaining accessible and responsive to their needs. VCT’s long-standing venue partners share this vision. ‘Just for Laughs Vancouver’s partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Theatre as the marquee stage for our festival, and the bustling public plaza activation we do, establishes our commitment to create a vibrant cultural event for the city, says JFL Festival’s Director Heather Wallace. .

Founder & Artistic Director of Vancouver Recital Society Leila Getz echoes this sentiment: The Vancouver Recital Society’s relationship with VCT dates back to 1984 when we began presenting concerts at the Playhouse. Since then, we’ve presented over 400 concerts, predominantly at the Playhouse, but also at the Orpheum, the Annex, and, for the first time this year, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

We have forged warm and meaningful relationships with many VCT staff, both on the administration side, as well as backstage.

And, at every concert, the wonderful VCT front-of-house staff welcomes us like family. VCT is committed to equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusivity, and supports these commitments through grants and public programs, which offer low-barrier and free opportunities such as outdoor movies every summer, dance classes, venue tours, visual artist programs, and more. And they continue to broaden their roster of VCT Presents’ programs with ticketed events. These include National Geographic Live and Silent Movie Mondays, VCT’s wildly popular new film series that screens silent movies accompanied by dramatic music played live on the historic Wurlitzer organ—the last theatre organ in Canada still performing in its original home. The immersive event takes place at the Orpheum Theatre, with a pre-show jazz quartet, photo booth, and food and beverage specials.

Patrons are encouraged to come dressed in period costumes to join in on the celebration of the city’s entertainment history. Following each show, Keith Blackmore of Vancouver Film School hosts a lively discussion about the movie and the role of silent films in the evolution of film history. VCT has one of the most comprehensive event listings in the Metro Vancouver area. Visit their website (vancouvercivictheatres. com) and follow them on Facebook and Instagram (@vancivictheatres) for the latest scoops and the hottest tickets in town!

Sponsored Ads

Related Articles