Penmar Society votes to keep going

The Penmar Community Arts Society votes to continue in their quest to create a performing arts centre in Penticton

Jennifer Vincent

The Penmar Community Arts Society is still hoping to make their vision a reality.

Despite the recent sale of the old theatre they were planning on converting, members of the society voted 18-1 Sunday to continue trying to bring a new performing arts space to Penticton.

Kerri Milton and Jennifer Vincent, both founding members of the society, chaired the meeting, which took place on May 8 in the Penticton Art Gallery Tea Room.

Kerri Milton talks about the future of the Penmar Society.

— image credit: Steve Kidd/Western News

They told the society members that though the Penmar Theatre had been sold, they had been approached by a developer who wanted to help build a brand-new building, which would house the performing arts space.

Vincent said that conversation was ongoing, so they weren’t able to go into detail, but said the theatre would be part of a larger build, and the society would lease their portion from the developer.

“The vision would be to create a commercial-residential mix, so that in the facility, there would be other revenue streams available,” said Vincent. “Having the theatre there makes an anchor tenant and a real draw card for the rest of the building.”

The society has a few physical assets: 311 theatre seats, two film projectors, sound and office equipment. About $12,464 was spent on electrical upgrades to the building.

After voting to continue, the society voted to sell off as much of those assets as necessary to repay the City of Penticton, amounting to $62,000 borrowed against the $125,000 line of credit the city allocated from the Amenity Contribution Capital Reserve Fund, which is supported by developer contributions, not tax dollars.

The seats and other equipment wouldn’t likely be suitable for a new purpose-built space, explained Milton, who supported selling the assets rather than pay to store them.

Tarik Sayeed, who was attending the meeting as a society member, not in his role as city councillor, also supported paying off the society liabilities. His personal opinion was that the city would likely continue to support the vision.

“I would say this is a very dire need for the arts community,” said Sayeed. “My take would be to support it as much as we can. Especially if you are paying back now, it shows your responsibility as a society.”