Toronto Centre for the Arts up for sale
City’s search for new operators met with lukewarm initial response
Coun. John Filion said serious proposals to take over the theatre will come soon
The City of Toronto has started looking for parties interested in buying, leasing or taking over the operation of one or all of its three civic theatres, including Toronto Centre for the Arts (TCA).
In late May, Toronto City Council authorized the issuing of a request for expression of interest (REOI) to find takers who would provide the most benefit to the city “financially, culturally or otherwise.”
Yet although several potential takers — including New York’s Madison Square Garden, Canadian Stage and Live Nation Canada — have bought the call documents that provide information about the theatres, few respondents said they have an interest in taking over TCA.
Of the nine initial respondents, at least two said specifically they have no desire to operate TCA. Three others said they were only interested in exploring the REOI process itself and have no plans for any theatres.
One such respondent said he had seen several similar attempts to sell TCA since the early 2000s.
“It’s hard to imagine getting any sort of coherent response.”
“It’s pretty clear nobody wants it, so giving another REOI I don’t expect will give a different result,” said Doug Simpson, managing director of NetGain Partners, a firm Toronto used intermittently to develop plans for each of its civic theatres.
Simpson also said it is “odd” to see the theatres all under one REOI, given that each one has its own unique characteristics and issues — on its lease, TCA can only be used for cultural purposes, for example.
“It’s a generic REOI for three places that are so different that it’s hard to imagine getting any sort of coherent response,” he said
However, Ward 23 councillor John Filion said the strongest applicants will be those applying later in the year.
“You’ll see a lot of stuff coming in August,” he said. “People are right now gathering information, doing due diligence and that sort of thing. Anybody who is serious will be doing a lot of work before they make a proposal.”
City staff will notify qualified respondents by Aug. 31, 2012.