One of the earliest endeavours of the GVPTA was a city-wide media campaign highlighting the arts. This successful campaign led to a series of promotional initiatives designed to benefit the theatre community as a whole, including the establishment of the theatre directory columns and ads in the two daily newspapers. Other initiatives included the Vancouver Theatre Guide (now an online searchable database of all theatre activity in Metro Vancouver), the Frequent Buyer Card, which provided an incentive for theatre patrons by offering a free theatre ticket for every five purchased at full price, and Casting the Net, which started out as a weekly email bulletin announcing opening and ongoing productions.
For the first decade or so of its existence, the GVPTA relied on volunteer labour to achieve its goals. Funding was sought for special initiatives, but the administration of the organization was volunteer-based and overhead costs were covered by membership dues. As the scope of the organization’s activities increased, a part-time administrator was hired to assist with operations.
As the organization entered its second decade, a new initiative was undertaken to produce an awards ceremony that would highlight and enhance the value of the local professional theatre scene. The Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, named for one of Vancouver’s theatre pioneers, were first presented in 1983 at the Arts Club Theatre, celebrating the season’s accomplishments with fourteen awards. A separate society was formed in 1997 to take over the producing of the awards, but the GVPTA remains involved through the administration of the Patron of the Arts Award and the Career Achievement Award.
Over the years, the GVPTA acted not only as an excellent advocacy service for the theatre and arts in general, but also provided a forum for the discussion of mutual concerns. The MAKING A SCENE conference was developed in 2000 to provide a structured opportunity for the community to gather to discuss global issues, as well as to explore topics specific to areas of theatrical production and administration.