Lethbridge residents will be forced to miss many presentations that have become part of the city's cultural life.
Crowd-pleasing performers like New West Theatre, Lethbridge Musical Theatre and others may have to suspend operations. And more travelling shows will give Lethbridge a miss.
That seems inevitable, when city officials shut the Yates Centre for a year or more.
Construction of a proposed 950-seat performing arts centre, meanwhile, could be delayed for another decade or more. That's the latest prospect, as city council prepares to debate its priorities for capital improvement projects.
With few alternative spaces available, Lethbridge groups now say they'll have to curtail or cancel operations when the Yates and the adjoining Sterndale Bennett Theatre are closed for renovations. What's worse, they don't know exactly when that will happen.
And unless city council rearranges its priorities, they'll still be facing a perennial shortage of available booking dates once the old theatre reopens. That makes it increasingly difficult for Lethbridge groups to plan events and book locations. There are so few alternatives.
The University Theatre is needed for student concerts, dramas and rehearsals most of the year. And few of the city's schools have performance spaces large enough for community use.
That would leave Southminster United Church as the only large, year-round facility suitable for community musical events. But it's not designed for comedy or drama, leaving other local organizations like Lethbridge Musical Theatre or New West Theatre out in the cold.
For New West - a group that books the Yates for months at a time - life will be particularly challenging. In addition to main-stage shows at Christmas and through the summer, the professional company presents children's theatre and adult drama in the smaller Sterndale Bennett every year.
"We're planning our seasons at least a year ahead," says artistic director Jeremy Mason.
But New West recently learned about the planned closure - yet to be approved by city council - and Mason isn't certain what that will mean for performers and their audiences when the lights go out.
"It's sometime in the ambiguous future."
More than 20,000 Lethbridge-area people attend New West productions every year, he points out.
"We have a commitment to keep on doing shows."
The University Theatre might be considered the only option for main-stage shows - unless the troupe went back to its birthplace, the smaller Empress in Fort Macleod. But campus officials say their largest theatre is rented by local dance schools every summer.
"If we have availability, we will be happy to accommodate the needs of the community," says Amanda Berg, front-of-house manager for music and drama theatres at the university. But students' events must remain her top priority.
And she's not about to refuse summer bookings from groups that have rented University Theatre for 20 years or more.
Lethbridge Musical Theatre has been operating much longer - 50 years as of 2014 - but president Ed Bayly says it will have to lose a year when the Yates shuts down. Other groups may be faced with the same choice.
"The list is pretty long," he says. "They're all going to be impacted in some way."
A still longer-running group, Playgoers of Lethbridge, might also have to give up its main-stage shows. But Bayly, who also serves as its president, hopes it could continue with its smaller dinner theatre productions. They're usually staged in a hotel ballroom.
"That's certainly an alternative."
While upgrades are required at the Yates, he says, many smaller groups will be left in the lurch as well.
What's to become of another Lethbridge institution, the Kiwanis Music Festival, is another question mark. While the Yates serves as home base for weeks of competition in a wide range of classes and events, organizers have already been relying on Southminster and a series of smaller venues for many of the events.
Says Bayly, "It would be very awkward for them."
While some schools provide performance space, a spokesman for the city's public system says those areas are not included in the "joint use" agreement with the city.
Associate superintendent Don Lussier says the school board has no policy providing for rental of the handful of suitable spaces - found in newer schools like Chinook High, and Lakie Middle School - which might help in a crunch.
At the same time, he reports, many schools including Lethbridge Collegiate Institute rely on the Yates for their major presentations. Where would they go?
City officials say they'll make efforts to find suitable alternatives, but members of the city's drama, music and arts communities point out they're precious and few.