Belfry Supporters Peter & Helen Malcolm / Photo by Justus Lowry
Helen and Peter are big Joni Mitchell fans and one of their favourite songs by her is Both Sides Now. The Malcolms have experienced life from both sides—both sides of the Georgia Straight anyway, having been raised on the lower mainland where they met at a friend’s wedding, then moving back and forth between here and there a few times.
Helen, a schoolteacher and librarian, is credited with introducing Peter to theatre and the arts and making him a more cultured man. That is fortunate—especially as Peter found himself serving on Sidney City Council for a few years, and then as a Mayor of Sidney in 1976, before career opportunities called them back to Vancouver. Peter’s wide-ranging career in finance included working with individual clients in trusts, wills, estates, investments, insurance, and income tax. At one point he worked for the well-known Vancouver businessperson and philanthropist Milton Wong.
Helen has also looked at theatre from both sides of the footlights. Her mother was a community theatre performer and Helen had an early love of acting herself. She very much enjoyed volunteering for a walk on role on the Belfry stage in Michael Shamata’s hit production of the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
The Malcolms have been Belfry patrons since they made their permanent move back to Victoria in 2002. They enjoy subscribing as it “gives them a discipline” rather than the risk of missing shows and they appreciate the Belfry’s flexible exchange policy. Now that they have downsized to a nearby apartment, they like walking to the theatre and appreciate the 7:30 p.m. start time on Tues/Wed/Thurs evenings. They enjoy the comfort of the renovated lobby and the opportunity to talk with acquaintances who they wouldn’t see as often otherwise.
The best way this couple can describe their taste in theatre is “eclectic.” Some of the productions they have most enjoyed include the touring production of Bears by Matthew MacKenzie, as well as learning about lighting in Itai Erdal’s memorable tribute to his late mother, How to Disappear Completely. During the pandemic, they steadfastly purchased subscriptions for online programming. Peter points out that every single play does not have to be to his personal taste, confessing that even on that odd occasion when he finds himself staying past intermission more for Helen’s sake, he’s still glad he came out.
Helen and Peter became donors to the Belfry because they like attending the theatre together and believe Victoria should support its own professionally produced theatre. In addition to cash contributions, they also became in-kind auction donors over several years, at the initial request of past Belfry Board Member Gloria Back, donating Scotch to the Belfry’s annual Crush fundraiser. We were only too glad to assist with downsizing Peter’s collection – which at one point was up to 290 bottles displayed on custom-built shelving in their former home! Peter was surprised at how valuable some of his Scotch had become over the years, and says he has never regretted giving up any of these rare bottles to raise funds for the Belfry.
The Malcolms point out that more people who can easily afford to come out to live theatre in Victoria should consider doing so. And the “pay-what-you-want” model we have implemented in recent years to ensure accessibility means that the vast majority can now afford to do just that. We are hoping this production featuring the songs of Joni Mitchell will introduce newcomers who will over the years come to
appreciate the Belfry as much as the Malcolms have.
– Susan Stevenson, Director of Development
For information on contributing donations or donations-in-kind to the Belfry, contact Kate Barry and Susan Stevenson at email@example.com.