Rawlinson Centre looking for feedback for future programming

Aaron Pritchett performs at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre in 2017. Pritchett is returning to Prince Albert Friday to help kick off the opening week of the Rawlinson Centre's 2019-20 season. (Facebook photo/EA Rawlinson Centre)

While the E.A. Rawlinson Centre already has some plans for what will go on stage once the pandemic has passed, it’s also looking to its patrons to suggest what they want to see come to town.

The centre launched an online survey this week asking patrons past and present what they like and want to see in the John and Olive Diefenbaker Theatre.

“Our next season is in place, most of the contracts are basically confirmed,” marketing and events coordinator Cara Stelmaschuk said.

“it’s just a question of whether or not we’re going to be able to do it. We have a really, really good season lined up. Our hope is that we can pull it off as planned.”

The Rawlinson cancelled the last half of its 2019-20 season and recently had to kibosh the annual Broadway North Theatre Company summer show.

“Things change very quickly,” Stelmaschuk said.

“If it’s a large tour (booked) where they’re starting in August but not here until November, they’ll probably cancel the whole tour,” she said.

“If it’s a big undertaking, it doesn’t take a lot for that to fall apart.”

What the lifting of restrictions will look like also plays a role.

“If it is something a bit smaller and we are looking at social distancing in our audience, if we can sell 130 tickets and still pay the bills on that, great,” she said.

“But for a lot of shows, we need to sell a lot more than 130 tickets.”

The survey, Stelmaschuk said, was a chance to touch base with patrons and ask them what they would like to see.

Recreational and leisure businesses weren’t included until phase four of the province’s re-open Saskatchewan plan, with restrictions such as crowd size not being lifted until phase five. That means it will still be a while yet before Prince Albert residents can pack the seats at the Rawlinson Centre.

In the meantime, though, the centre’s staff is looking at other ways they can keep people entertained. The survey floated some ideas, such as virtual concerts, as ways to engage with residents in a different way.

“There have been a few places that have also been kicking this idea around,” Stelmaschuk said.

“A lot of musicians are homebound right now so they can set up a camera in the living room and people tune in and enjoy it. If we are going to do it, it would have to be the Rawlinson difference. We would do an on-stage setup, we would have lights, the professional sound mix on it, and it would sound and look fantastic. It would still be live content.”

So far, that idea, and others, are just ideas. There are no solid plans in place. In the meantime, the centre is hosting quarantivity videos on its website, where local performers sing, dance and/or act to a weekly theme.

The idea is to keep residents entertained anyway they can.

“We still want to be able to entertain people,” Stelmaschuk said.

“It won’t be the way people are used to, but we want to remind people that we are here, and we’re doing things. This is us trying to provide that service to the public.”