Editorial: Art gallery is a treasure

In his latest Mayor’s Minute column (Penticton Western News, Sept. 15), Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit wrote eloquently on the richness of arts and culture in our community.

He wrote about how Penticton isn’t just about sports events and about the lasting memories that cultural events can create. He spoke at length about the Arts Rising Festival — starting on Sept. 21 — and about the recently finished visit of Tibetan Buddhist monks.

Related: Mayor’s Minute – It’s in our culture

In terms of Arts Rising, Jakubeit wrote about how these four days are a chance to “celebrate the talent we have in our backyard and build a cultural identity that distinguishes Penticton from other communities.”

We couldn’t agree more with his sentiments, but we hope the mayor remembers them when it comes time for Penticton City Council to discuss the future of the Penticton Art Gallery — which brought the monks to Penticton, along with creating and bringing many world-class shows to our community.

Looking a bit further into the past than the mayor’s column, the Penticton Art Gallery was on the list of facilities the city might consider moving to an alternate location, perhaps into a re-purposed Trade and Convention Centre, along with the library and museum.

In the wake of 2016 report on Penticton’s aging facilities, the mayor said that moving the art gallery was low on the priority list of ways to save money but then spoke to the possibility of the land creating more revenue than the gallery’s $5, 20-year lease.

“We could free up that location to get something closer to market value than 20 cents a year,” said Jakubeit in March 2016.

Those discussions may have been shelved, but we need to recognize that the gallery is integral to the arts and cultural fabric of the community, and its value to the city in its present location, cannot be measured on an accountant’s blotter.