Blog | Silent Snacks

Silent Snacks

By admin | March 10, 2016
lets all go to the lobby

This will bring back memories, or get the song stuck in your head, or both.

Ok at the movies but not at the theater?

By Hannah Bellamy and Rosemarie Gresham

“Let them eat snacks!”

This increasingly common position now that more theatre venues provide concessions and allow audiences to eat during performances. While some theatre goers have embraced this more casual attitude, others strongly oppose it, worried about disruptions and additional cleaning expenses.

Many patrons have taken to the Internet to bemoan the sounds of wrappers ruining the atmosphere, complaining that their fellow audience members act like they’re at the movies. Interestingly enough, movie theatres used to have a strict no-food policy, but circa the 1930s they realized that they could increase profits by selling snacks. Now snacks, drinks, and—in some movie theatres—even meals are common.


Is the new more permissive snacking policy lifting theatre up or bringing it down? Some local theatres weigh in with their own snacking policies and the reasons behind them.

Barbara Chirinos, Executive Director of the Granville Island Cultural Society (GICS) explains that the no snacking policies at GICS venues is due to cost. “People still spill their food and drinks,” Barbara told us. “And the seats and carpets would require special cleaning at an extra cost. That would mean charging more for the venue.” GICS operates theatres around Granville Island, including Studio 1398, Waterfront Theatre, and Performance Works—all popular venues for independent theatre and other arts. When asked about Performance Works, where snacks and drinks from the concession are allowed in the theatre, she pointed out that folding chairs are cheaper and easier to replace. And, of course, the non-carpeted floors mean that spills only require a mop up.

For Ava Forsyth, Operations Manager at Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, allowing snacks in the theatre is about experience. Snacks create a more casual experience, which in turn makes Shakespeare more approachable. “Theatre is not precious—it belongs to all of us,” Ava said when we asked about people who find snacking at the theatre distracting. Some patrons may complain, but when she looks at the Bard on the Beach experience each year, the benefits continue to outweigh the negatives. “We always remind people to enjoy their snacks respectfully.”

Allowing snacks in the theatre turns out to be a very divided issue in Vancouver. Most theatres and organizations that we’ve spoken with don’t allow snacks because of clean-up costs and distractions, but for those that do, snacks in the theatre are an indispensable part of the experience for theatre goers.

What do you think about snacks in the theatre? Join the conversation here or on Twitter!

2 Responses to “Silent Snacks”

  1. Trena says:

    Saved as a favorite, I love your site!

  2. […] theatre personalities, a historical look at shows that have been banned in Vancouver, debates about eating in the theatre, and […]