It is with heavy concern for the future of Victoria, Oak Bay and the District of Saanich that I join my voice to the many others who have already written. With the prospect of the Victoria Symphony moving out of the Royal Theatre for many of its concerts, I cannot help but envision a darkened future community without music and dance at its core, no longer glittering in the heart of its downtown, and inspiring colour and imagination in the hearts of those in its midst.
We’ve all been captivated by exotic and international bands and acts, and I think it is so wonderful when these groups come into our city. They inspire new opportunities for our citizens to experience things that the local communities can’t produce from within. After all, the arts have the power to alter and inspire our experiences and perspectives, to make us feel and think new things.
But after these exciting affairs are over, and the lights and speakers move on, it is our own family that shapes us, and our own community that raises us. Together, we aspire, create, define, explore and, very importantly, help each other.
Victoria has something that many communities don’t have. It has an orchestra that continuously creates music of such a high quality that it defines these kinds of experiences every night that it performs. And the musicians perform with and support other important local arts organizations, such as Pacific Opera Victoria and Dance Victoria.
What if the orchestra’s musicians (taken from the core of our city) become outsiders and begin a slow journey into obscurity? All of you who live, who lead, who govern in these communities: Will you stand by and let this happen?
Many people move to Victoria to live a wonderful life in a special and extraordinary city. If the orchestra moves from the downtown, it risks moving out of the centre of its community.
You can be sure that the city will no longer be extraordinary if this happens.
The long-term ramifications are not just on the impact on the quality of life for the citizens of the communities of Victoria, Oak Bay, Saanich and beyond, but it is an extraordinary setback for the recruitment of new citizens who move to this wonderful set of communities from cities all over Canada and the world.
The mayors of Victoria, Oak Bay and the District of Saanich, the board of directors of the Royal and McPherson Theatres Society, and all of the arts organizations must work together now to find a solution.
Tania Miller is the former music director of the Victoria Symphony.