City council delays vote on hotel tax funding for Theatre Victoria


Dec. 7, 2010 at 6:07 a.m.

Controversy involving Theatre Victoria delayed city council action Tuesday on that group's request for hotel tax funding.

Omar Rachid, with Theatre Victoria, asked that the theater's application be withdrawn for now and considered later. He said the proposal was submitted by former Producing Artistic Director Charles Moster without the board's approval.

The council agreed to set aside the $59,800 that had been requested until Theatre Victoria came back later with a formal request.

"I consider Theatre Victoria part of the downtown improvement project," Mayor Will Armstrong said. "I'm hoping we can resolve this application in the month of February."

Moster was fired earlier this month, and the board declined to comment beyond acknowledging his termination. But Moster said he thought the plan to oust him had been brewing for months and was led by a group of volunteers, actors and staff who didn't like the changes he was bringing to the organization.

He said before being fired he planned to use the hotel tax money for improvements that would benefit not just Theatre Victoria, but any performing arts that used the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts.

He said he planned to increase the brand recognition and improve the exterior attractiveness of the center. Moster said that could improve the appeal to out-of-town shows and audiences.

He said the center could also be used as a meeting center and for conferences that could attract small- to medium-sized businesses. Those people would then use hotels and help the economy, he said.

One of the improvements he planned was a large marquee and two smaller ones on the sides of the building. Moster also wanted three large flagpoles with large custom flags representing the theater, ballet and orchestral works.

"The difficulty is, if you walk by the Welder Center and you're not looking up at the neon, it really looks generically like almost any other building," he said. "But once the public and potential tenants outside the 90-mile radius of Victoria become aware that this facility is there, it will be like a lightning rod and bring in more business to Victoria."



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