Belfry Theatre Society
Our Impact Why We Exist
The Belfry's mission is to enrich our community by inspiring and entertaining our audiences with theatre that is nationally recognized for its excellence, and to maintain our commitment to artistic development, professional integrity and financial responsibility.
The Belfry aims to accomplish this by adhering to the following Core Values:
- Respect for artists, staff, audience and volunteers
- Ethical treatment of colleagues
- Playing a leadership role in our cultural community
- Support for the creation of theatre in our community
- Support for artists in our community
- Reducing our environmental footprint
Our Story What We Do
The Belfry Theatre Company began producing plays in 1976. As a professional adult theatre company, we are dedicated to producing contemporary plays, with an emphasis on Canadian work, and to promoting artistic, cultural, and educational events in the Greater Victoria Region. For the past 39 years, the Belfry Theatre and its audiences have been on a journey through the best of contemporary theatre.
From the company’s inception until 1991 the Belfry rented the main theatre space in the building from the Victoria Cool Aid Society and shared the complex with a homeless shelter. In 1991, Cool Aid moved and the Belfry began the first of five capital campaigns to buy and restore the building. Renovations were completed in 2001 with the restoration of the exterior. The building is listed in the heritage registry and has won a number of awards for its restoration. The Belfry burned its mortgage on the building in 2010, with the generous support of our longest standing board member, Chair Emeritus Patrick (Paddy) Stewart.
The Belfry has produced over 230 plays, more than 150 of which are Canadian plays, and more than 35 premieres. Many of those premiere productions have gone on to acclaim across Canada, in the U.S., Australia, Europe and London’s West End. Belfry productions regularly tour to other cities and have won awards in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.
We have a reputation for exceptional productions of musicals, both Canadian (Anything That Moves) and non-Canadian (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee). Through tours and collaborations with theatres that share our aesthetic, audiences across the country are able to experience our work.
Central to our artistic practice is the development of new work, from commissions and dramaturgy, to workshops, readings and productions. We recognize our responsibility as an artistic leader within our region, and have a commitment to artists and companies from the Victoria area, as well as from the rest of British Columbia. We support cultural diversity, and the development of aboriginal artists and stories.
Our Programs How We Do It
The Belfry Theatre has played an important role in the cultural community of the CRD for almost 40 years. In addition to the plays we present on stage, we offer a number of ancillary activities designed to enrich the theatre-going experience for young people and the general public, to provide development opportunities for local artists, and to attract as wide a community as possible to the theatre.
Some of our key initiatives include:
The Belfry Incubator Program is a two year process through which we provide support and mentorship for local independent theatre companies wishing to explore new work, new practices, or new artistic territory. It is a venue for the artistic development of Vancouver Island's most exciting artists and theatre companies. This season and next, Brian Linds, Jessica Hickman, and Zopyra Theatre will make use of our Studio Theatre to develop three exciting projects as part of our Incubator Project. Brian, Jessica, and Emma Zabloski are developing their own pieces - using our space - and will meet as a group with Belfry artistic personnel to share ideas and discoveries along the way. Funded by the Victoria Foundation.
Belfry 101 is the umbrella title for a programme that is unique to the Belfry, designed to help open young people up to their own creative impulses. In a safe environment, students in grades 10, 11 and 12 are introduced to the world of professional theatre, and encouraged to engage in critical thinking, social awareness and the creative process.
Belfry B4Play is a collaborative effort between the Belfry Theatre and CBC Radio. CBC Radio's morning host, Gregor Craigie, joins us for a live talk-show featuring artists from our productions and experts from the community. This free event happens on the Saturday before the opening of each show and offers patrons a chance to go behind the scenes of each show throughout our season.
Programming for younger audiences stems from our desire to increase programming opportunities for the company. We have determined that Studio programming should be "branded" as programming geared towards a younger audience. The upcoming musical adaptation of Spring Awakening, with a history of attracting a younger demographic, will launch this new initiative in October 2014.
What You Can Do
Ticket sales only account for about half of our operating expenses. Through the generous support of government, corporate and individual supporters, we would not be able to provide the highest quality theatre experience for all patrons who walk through our doors.
Financial contributions support:
- maintaining ticket prices as some of the most affordable in the country
- the best contemporary theatre, 11 months of the year, showcasing national and international playwrights
- over 80 actors, directors, designers, carpenters, props-makers, wardrobe staff, among others behind the scenes – over one season
- innovative, cutting-edge shows from across the country in our annual SPARK Festival
- the commissioning and development of new work
- programs for established and emerging local artists, including professional development workshops, apprenticeships, and our Incubator project
- audience enrichment activities, such as Afterplay, Worldplay, backstage tours and free play readings
- Belfry 101, our signature educational program for high school students
Our community of supporters is invaluable. Ensuring accessibility for as many members of our community as possible is one of the Belfry’s core values. We work very hard to keep our tickets reasonably priced, without jeopardizing the bottom line.