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Letters Jan. 11: Can Langham Court Theatre survive?; pubs get a break, gyms don't

Langham Court Theatre has a solid base of volunteers and patrons, but its future has been darkened by its new board, a letter-writer suggests. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Can Langham Court rise from the ashes?

Langham Court Theatre has run smoothly for the past 20 years that I have been involved, producing six plays per season, each with the involvement of 30 to 50 people, almost all loyal and enthusiastic volunteers.

The theatre instituted a code of conduct many years ago and recently made amendments to the code that reasonably reflected current concerns.

This new code apparently wasn’t sufficient for a small group of people who mounted what was essentially a hostile takeover of the Langham board.

Their aggressive stance caused the established members of the board to resign and the new, reduced board, mostly unknown to the membership and with little or no experience with Langham Court Theatre, then summarily fired the remaining paid staff and cancelled the remaining three plays of the season.

Victoria already has a Phoenix Theatre. I fear that Langham will not be able to rise from the ashes of this scorched-earth policy.

Many of the members and past patrons are perplexed and angered by the actions and attitudes of the new reduced board and this will affect their loyalty and support. A lot of the key volunteers are disillusioned and may not return.

There is now no general manager or box office manager, critical positions to keep even a dark theatre functioning. There are bills to be paid but no revenue stream.

Langham was once one of the longest-running and most successful community theatres in Canada. Now I fear its days might be at an end.

Bill Adams, life member

Where is the evidence behind gym closures?

I am trying to understand why it was decided that gyms had to close because of COVID, but pubs do not. I have not seen evidence that more cases are coming from gym attendees.

In pubs, you need to wear a mask when entering and show your card for two doses. Once seated, you can take off your mask, so in effect everyone in the pub has no mask protection, which makes sense if one is eating, but I am sure there is a good chance of spreading in the pubs with all the maskless patrons.

I like having the pubs open and enjoy them, but I cannot figure out the rationale.

The gym I attend has the same protocol as the pubs. You need to wear your mask, you need to have your vaccination card with the two shots before you can get in. Once in the gym you must wear your mask at all times and maintain social distance.

On occasion, like the pub, you pass by another table or person closer than six feet. But we are all masked so the chance of exposure is severely limited, unlike pubs.

After you are done with the equipment, you must wipe it down, and ideally wipe it down before you start. There are spray bottles and single-use paper towels throughout the gym.

I would like to see some evidence that links COVID cases to exposures in gyms or pubs, as there must be some logical reason for this what appears to be a prejudicial decision.

Glenn White
Shawnigan Lake

Careful planning needed in museum design

Re: “Architect of Old Town, First Peoples Gallery and dozens of exhibits around the globe,” Jan. 7.

This article includes a photo of Jean Jacques André reviewing a scale model of the First Peoples Gallery before its opening. This reveals a wise approach to making the gallery: Careful planning before construction.

The current leaders of the Royal B.C. Museum are taking a different approach: Destroy Old Town first, plan a replacement years later.

The decision to destroy Old Town is clearly a panicked reaction to the recent accusations of racial prejudice in the museum staff.

Panicky people should not be entrusted with leadership positions in important institutions like the museum. It appears as if the current leaders of the museum are not fit for their jobs.

Unless they rescind their decision to destroy Old Town, they should be replaced by people who can provide calm, rational leadership.

I look forward to seeing a report about the scale model of the revised third floor.

David Stocks

Returning the totem pole would be reconciliation

Re: “First Nation asks museum to return totem pole, other artifacts,” Jan. 9.

The Royal B.C. Museum’s hypocrisy is on full view here. They instantly, with no consultation, decide to take down the Old Town exhibit, explaining the action with those popular words, decolonization and reconciliation.

However, almost three years after the nation’s request, the museum can’t return the totem pole and artifact.

The first has nothing to do with reconciliation, it is sheer window dressing and virtue signalling. The second is real, true reconciliation and they can’t be bothered to act.

I’m sure they and the First Nation could arrange safe transportation in a week. It’s the nation’s property, just return it in a temperature-controlled truck and let the nation take care of it, which I’m sure they are quite capable of. It’s theirs, return it, now.

Leave the Old Town exhibit up, it’s good, it’s part of our history. Add whatever commentary and other exhibits of native life that are needed to give a sensitive, compassionate, balanced view of the colonial past and its impact on the Indigenous peoples of B.C.

There is no reason why almost everyone can’t be happy with the museum’s exhibits.

Richard Volet

Don’t blame the museum for changes being made

Recent letters blame acting CEO Dan Muzyka and the Royal B.C. Museum for the demolition of Old Town and the general chaos surrounding the process.

Let us be clear. The museum is a Crown corporation and as such is owned, regulated and operated by the government of B.C. Its board of governors is appointed by them as well.

Muzyka is highly qualified as a senior business administrator and was chair of the board before becoming acting CEO. I see nothing in his vita indicating prior museum experience.

The government ministry responsible for the museum is the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. The minister responsible for the museum is Melanie Mark.

From Melanie Mark on Twitter: “Our govt’s commitment to #TRC demands that we diversify, and decolonize the way we share the #HistoryOfBC. For too long, museums have been colonial institutions. We have an opportunity to turn the museum inside out, & it starts now!”

An undertaking of such magnitude and ferocious suddenness as has befallen the museum could not have been undertaken without direction from the government through the minister responsible.

One can only hope that the government will devote sufficient planning and resources to restore the museum to its former excellence from which it will surely now fall.

Bob Miers

Now try decolonizing the Sea Lion

Re: “Oldest tug on West Coast dismantled, parts go to museums,” Jan. 6.

I read the article with interest, as I have a keen appreciation of history, and in particular B.C. marine history.

What a fascinating role the tug played in the development of our province. I read that the Royal B.C. Museum will be receiving some of the salvaged pieces for its collection, and noted there was no reference to anything going to the Maritime Museum of B.C.

But then, when you think about it, how could anything significant go to the Maritime Museum, as it has no proper display or storage facilities since it was booted out of its previous home on Bastion Square.

And if you think about it a bit more, why send anything from the Sea Lion to the Royal B.C. Museum, which apparently is in the process of “decolonizing” its exhibits?

The provincial government has already done a thorough job of “decolonizing” the Maritime Museum. Perhaps they could take a similar approach with the Royal B.C. Museum: dismantle everything and hide it in a warehouse somewhere and leave the building empty.

Dismantling. Decolonizing. Hmm, they are starting to look kind of similar.

Stephen Hill

Imagine a life with so little social contact

Re: “Disruptive measures do not help our health,” editorial, Jan. 7.

I’m tired of seeing the government do bad things for our health in the name of doing good things for our health. Why is someone with COVID-19 prioritized over someone with a brain tumour?

In this case, the ethical triage procedure should be enacted, not beds sitting empty while surgeries are cancelled as we wait for Omicron to bare its fangs — more like gums.

So many pandemic policies do not make sense. Can we ask elderly people in care homes if they want to be isolated, have musicians and other visitors cancelled and be limited to only one visitor?

In a recent Times Colonist article, the resident asserted they would prefer COVID over a life rendered mundane.

Is Dr. Bonnie Henry or Adrian Dix willing to only see one family member for even a week? Doubtful.

They should try to experience the cruel measures they are inflicting on others for their so-called own benefit.

Emma Hillian

Perspective is needed from those affected

Re: “After a life well lived, she chose her time to go,” Jan. 8.

Writing about the life and death of Victoria artist Jo Manning, Dave Obee raises several important issues.

One of them is: “We, the old, should be in the conversation.” We probably have quite a different perspective on death and dying than “the debaters [who] are still in their active years and most are far from dying.”

That perspective needs to be heard and to be taken into account when a decision is made.

Another is expressed in the sentence “…when her eyes failed, her quality of life fell so far that she believed her best choice was to move on.”

The key here is “quality of life”: she made her decision based on what she considered her quality of life, not necessarily her health, and it was her decision, not that of someone else.

G.M. Bonnor
Oak Bay

Let’s consult more with the elderly

Re: “After a life well lived, she chose her time to go,” Jan. 8.

Thank you for the thoughtful column on the passing of Jo Manning. I was especially struck by her suggestion there be more consultation with the elderly, and, indeed, the dying, in the crafting of the MAiD law.

My uncle, an extraordinarily intelligent person, used medical assistance to end his life.

During the period between making the decision and the actual event he had lots of time to apply his creative and inquisitive mind to contemplating the law and how it might be improved.

The wisdom of those experiencing the use of the law seems an untapped resource.

Benthe Jansen-Jones

News from Beacon Hill: Seeing signs of spring

First, two male ducks “courting” — i.e. poking — a female in the neck with a small stick. So far she is totally uninterested, but that will change, I hope.

Second, a duck who has learned how to skate. While the other ducks are wobbling over the fast fading ice, he pushes off serenely like a real skater. Maybe the Winter Olympics in 2026? He is practising.

Alison Acker

Restrict ownership of B.C. real estate

Constructing high-rise buildings to have the so-called affordable housing is and will be ineffective.

In the 1980s, B.C. real estate agents went to Hong Kong to sell real estate in B.C. The pendulum has swung to the extreme opposite that British Columbians cannot afford to buy houses. The prices of houses are unaffordable to average Canadians.

It is the responsibility/duty of the B.C. Parliament to legislate that “Canadians and only Canadians have the right to buy, purchase, acquire real estate, lands in British Columbia, that foreign nationals are prohibited from buying, acquiring, purchasing real estate, whether they be for personal, investment and business use.”

Real estate, lands, holdings, investments owned by foreign nationals should only be sold to Canadians.

Also, high-rise buildings do not enhance the beauty of Victoria. High-rise buildings make Victoria just like any other common city.

Annabella Morrell

It’s about time we cared for everybody

The federal government has decided that supporting the present murderous industrial infrastructure is more important than upholding either rule of law or meaningful working structures of democracy.

The Supreme Court recognizes We’suwet’en law. The nation never ceded its territory in a treaty with Canada. It’s therefore unjust that pipeline builders, RCMP or the province should be allowed to do what they will on the First Nation’s territory. The executive is effectively acting outside the law.

The prime minister was chosen by his caucus, not by the voters, except for those in his own riding, and we have allowed over the decades the concentration of power into that office that MPs have become — tantamount to the former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s assertion — “nobodies.”

Plus, the voting system has been maintained so as to virtually guarantee the same two parties are well placed to dominate Parliament by those very same parties.

At the same time, privileges of power and wealth’s access command the ear and actions of Parliament to ensure the continuance of economic and cultural practices suppressing the masses’ well-being and serve to reduce the lifespans of all, but most especially those with lower economic means.

This effectively murderous situation is exacerbated by immediate but shortsighted gains of the elites that will in the longer run bode ill for them as well.

We need to ensure this does not continue, think outside the box, and make sure our leaders and influencers do likewise. Real long-term caring for all inhabitants, now absent, is required.

Glynne Evans


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