Gladstone Theatre finds a buyer

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Two pieces of history are being made at 910 Gladstone this week. Far from a swansong, The Norman Conquests heralds bigger and better things for many years to come at The Gladstone.

This Saturday (October 10th), Plosive Productions and SevenThirty Productions will make theatre history at The Gladstone, presenting all 3 shows that make up The Norman Conquests (6 hours of stage time) in just one epic day of theatre. But that’s not all that’s happening at The Gladstone this week. It’s just been announced that owner Steve Martin and the buyer have firmed up the previously-conditional sale of 910 Gladstone, with everything now in place to keep the theatre as The Gladstone for years to come.

Furthermore, the buyer’s identity has finally been made public: The Properties Group is buying The Gladstone, with the purchase stickhandled by Properties Group partner Brian Lahey. The identity of the buyer had been kept quiet while the sale remained conditional, but upon firming up the deal over the weekend, it’s no longer a secret.

The Properties Group have an extensive track record of keeping and maintaining their real estate purchases, so this puts an end to rumours that a developer would purchase and flip the property, converting it to non-artistic use. In fact, The Properties Group’s purchase was conditional on signing a new, long-term lease. This lease has now been signed, and is set to take effect when the sale closes at the end of the month. That lease requires that 910 Gladstone remain The Gladstone and that current tenant Plosive Productions continues to operate it as a theatre. So there is firm commitment by both the new owner and tenant Plosive Productions to keep 910 Gladstone as a performing arts venue for many years to come.

The Gladstone will stay The Gladstone. It will keep its name and remain a live venue with theatre as its primary mandate. That’s not to say it won’t grow and evolve. Plosive Productions Co-Artistic Director David Whiteley says: “I expect a wider diversity of live performances, and other arts uses such as a home for summer performing arts camps. But it will stay The Gladstone we know and love, and it will thrive. The new owner is committed this—indeed, is requiring of us as tenants that we keep it as The Gladstone—but is otherwise giving Plosive as the tenant full freedom to run it as we see fit. And Plosive, for its part, now in our 5th year of coordinating The Gladstone’s shared use as a performance space for local theatre companies to share, is as committed as ever to continuing (and further growing) this tradition, and preserving this cultural gem.”

“Personally, I’m over the moon to know that there is no more doubt about The Gladstone’s future. As a creator working at The Gladstone, I’ve always felt the sword of Damacles hanging over my head: what if the building goes up for sale? What if the new buyer doesn’t want to keep it a theatre, or wants to skyrocket rent beyond what we producers can pay? It’s a huge relief to know that we’ve got a new owner who’s committed to long-term ownership, committed to The Gladstone staying a theatre, and committed to continuing to respect and nurture our unique approach of sharing the space and letting the artists shape what gets produced when and by whom. This is really a best-case scenario for me and for all of us. Finally I can stop worrying about sales and leases and just get on with making art.”

“I’m extremely optimistic for the future of The Gladstone. There has been rapid growth at the venue over the last four years, with number of performances and annual attendance going up and up and up. We haven’t hit the ceiling yet and we’re going to continue to grow. Already through October and November we’re seeing sell-out bookings night after night. Awareness and interest are going through the roof—among audiences as well as among artists. The future couldn’t be brighter.”

The lease with the new owner is for three years, renewable. This means Plosive is now secure in its tenancy, not just for the 2015-16 season and not just for three years but, through renewal, for many years to come. Being at the heart of Little Italy (and thus, the heart of Ottawa) positions The Gladstone to grow as Ottawa grows and light rail expands—a proposed Gladstone O-train stop just down the block would be an important improvement for public access to an ever-growing population base. “We’re perfectly placed to just get bigger and better over the years,” Whiteley reports. “As The Gladstone grows, I expect we’ll see some exciting growth of companies currently producing here, along with more new faces as other creators step up to be a part of this exciting growth—we’ve just replaced our old September-May model of leasing with year-round leasing, so there’s a whole summer season’s worth of added time to welcome new companies into the fold. Together we can make The Gladstone a real monument Ottawa can show off to the rest of Canada—proving that artists can work together to tailor a space so it best connects a city’s artists with its public, and let the arts (and artists! and audiences!) thrive.”


OttawaStart Staff

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