The low Canadian dollar could mean an increase in business for Victoria Playhouse Petrolia.
That from Artistic Director David Hogan who says the low loonie could keep Canadians home and bring deal-seeking American theatregoers to Petrolia’s doors.
The dollar has been on a steady decline for the last few months, dropping below 70 per cent barrier Monday. It along with oil prices – a barrel of crude is now trading for about $30 down from $100 last summer – is causing all kinds of financial worries.
While oil producers, equipment dealers and travellers are hurting because of the sinking loonie and oil prices, Hogan says he hopes to turn it into an opportunity.
Hogan was working in Stratford in the 1990s when the dollar began sliding. “In my experience back in the 90s, we did see huge booms; Canadians spent their entertainment dollars at home and people were crossing the border because of the low dollar,” he says. “We did really well when the dollar was low at Stratford.”
Hogan says that trend is already playing out this year. He’s heard from travel companies that they’re selling more tours to Toronto for theatre instead of into the US and they attribute it to the weakening dollar. “Ticket buyers are going to Toronto; you can see the same show in Toronto or in Petrolia (as you do in the States) and you get 40 cents on the dollar – that’s huge savings.”
Hogan says VPP’s ticket sales are already 15 per cent higher this year than they were in January 2015 but he still plans to capitalize on current economic situation.
“Callandra (Dendais, marketing director for D2D Entertainment) and I are doing a planned marketing campaign direct at that – both here and in the United States – telling them their dollar will go farther.”
The VPP will also go into Michigan to promote the coming season. “We’re going to take advantage of the dollar being low and bring them here,” says Hogan adding having Michael Learned – the actress who is best known for her role in The Waltons – on the playbill this season was bound to draw American tourists anyway.
Statistics show about 64 per cent of the audience coming to VPP are from outside of Lambton County, although figures on how many Americans came were not immediately available.
Hogan says there were a number of bus tours at VPP this winter for the Starbright Christmas show. The number of bus tours dropped off dramatically after the US government tightened its borders after terrorist attacks forcing everyone to use a passport to cross into Canada. Hogan says it has been long enough now that most people have a passport and are willing to find the deals in Canada – especially with the lower dollar.
“We are definitely going to see a spike (in box office) because of the dollar.”