The head of a community theatre group would like to pose the question: "What is the value of community theatre to this community?"
Sharone Malone, president of the Emerald Pig Theatrical Society, is appealing to council next week to help them find a home for community theatre.
For their productions, Emerald Pig uses parks and leisure facilities as well as other public venues.
But costs are rising for its rehearsal space, which Malone, said will "be a significant barrier to community theatre."
And although The ACT is a "lovely facility," she added, it's not an appropriate space for small intimate productions that are done by groups like Emerald Pig.
Malone said Emerald Pig needs a small standalone community theatre space, which could also host other events and meetings. Malone doesn't believe this type of venue would take away from The ACT.
Their recent production of Trying won several awards at the Fraser Valley Theatre BC competition this year and will be part of the provincial Mainstage competition in Kamloops this summer, but it still lost money, Malone pointed out.
Ironically, the fundraising event for the Emerald Pigs' trip to Kamloops will be held in Langley at the home of their sister community theatre company, the Langley Playhouse, because they can't afford to rent space in Maple Ridge.
Like Langley, Surrey has a community theatre venue in Clayton Heights, New Westminster's community theatre is centred at the Bernie Legge Theatre, and virtually every small community in the Interior has its own community theatre, Malone explained.
There are plans for agriculture, the environment and other aspects of municipal life in Maple Ridge, and Malone thinks there should be one for the arts.
"We need a plan for how we're going to protect the arts," she said. "The arts are the heart of the community."
Kathleen Hatley, secretary of the theatre society, said the community theatre group is grateful for support from The ACT but their needs are different.
"They treat us well but they have to charge what they charge," she said.
Not having a place to store their props and to build sets is exhausting, Hatley said - every time they rehearse they have to pack and unpack the necessary props, and sets are often built in the society members' garages.
The group has a good core group of people working on productions, but they are burning out, Hatley said, especially because they have to go from place to place to rehearse, lugging their gear.
A healthy community is where the arts are active and alive, Hatley said.
"There's just so much to it and we love it... but we need some help," she said.
"I think it's so important for kids and adults to express themselves," she added.
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