I am probably too aware of this project to understand why there is controversy around such an amazing deal for the City of Cambridge. I’ve tried to understand it, but it is still very difficult to understand the bad in something so good. Drayton Entertainment made application for Federal funding under a grant program called Building Canada. This was a program initiated to do a number of things along the lines of stimulating the economy but even more so to do exactly what it’s title says, “Build Canada”. They were awarded 6 million from the Fed’s, 6 million from the Province and then they went out to find that municipal 1/3 partner so they could add to their family of theatre’s in Ontario. Cambridge stepped forward, with a 6 million dollar investment and in return, Drayton Entertainment said, we’ll hand over ownership of the 14 million dollar Cambridge Performing Arts Theatre, after construction. So folks, we get a 14 million dollar theatre for 6 million dollars. I don’t think anyone needs a math degree to figure out that is a good deal. Certainly anyone can argue whether the timing is right, well in most cases, the timing is never right, but we always have to be prepared to seize an opportunity. All that being said, there is so much misinformation going on, Drayton is getting a free ride, there is a board member of Drayton who won the construction project because he’s on the board. All just frivolous arguments really. Drayton isn’t getting a free ride, they will manage and maintain the building, they are offing up 8 million of the project costs in Cambridge, and as for the board member, well who cares, it is Drayton’s project not the City of Cambridge, doesn’t really matter who’s building it, as it was Drayton Entertainment’s choice, no one elses as they are the one’s who got the government funding, not the City of Cambridge.
I maybe know more than most because several months ago, with the pending “Cambridge” theatre project, Drayton Entertainment asked me to sit on their Board of Directors. Let me be totally up front here, I have not been a diehard theatre goer throughout my life. I’ve attended in the past, enjoyed it very much, but I’m not what you might call an “artsy” person. I’d fancy a golf game, or a hockey game, even a ball game in the heat of the summer, but I do enjoy the odd night out at the theatre. Let me also say that I do care about business, it’s my primary role in life and I believe that it is governments role to create an environment where business can thrive and prosper. Looking at this project, its spin-off benefit to local businesses, its generation of opportunity for new businesses, certainly seems to me like government is doing the job it should do.
Just because you’re opposed to it, doesn’t make me think you are wrong, it makes me think you obviously haven’t got all the information, or your judgement is skewed by false information. This is a good deal, believe it or not, this will have a dramatic affect economically on our community, it will have a profound affect on the creativeness of our community, and heck it will probably make me give up the odd golf game to enjoy the entertainment of fantastically brilliant performances by fantastically brilliant professionals. I’ll be there on opening night, and so will a packed house of supporters and the odd non-supporter. I’m quite sure we will all come to love our Performing Arts Theatre.