The South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society has received a five-figure sum that lay hidden within School District 67’s budget lines for around two decades, and the money is now sitting in a much more prosperous environment.
Bonnie Roller-Routley’s pair of fresh eyes noticed the $10,800 shortly after she took over as the new secretary-treasurer at SD67.
The money was raised in the early 1990s as a fundraiser for SOPAC’s predecessor, the Penticton and District Performing Arts Facilities Society. The seats in the auditorium at Penticton Secondary School were on their dying breath, so the society initiated an adopt-a-seat program and saw hundreds of seats purchased for $75 each.
School District 67 served as the treasurer and steward for the donations in the 1990s. The society raised more than enough to re-upholster the seats, and the extra funds remained in the same account.
The money was put back to use on Nov. 4 when chair for SD67 Linda Van Alphen presented a cheque for $10,800 to SOPAC Society treasurer Ken Barron.
“A lot of people purchased seats in memory of their children, to support the building of the auditorium, and so that’s how it originally accumulated,” Alphen said.
“I was very pleased to find out we had this money available,” Barron said. “It’s not that much when we’re talking about a $35 million project, but it’s indicative of the community’s support.”
Barron, who’s a retired acoustical consultant, said he joined the SOPAC Society to ensure the venue has a strong emphasis on its acoustics.
“I’ve seen too many community theatres where the acoustics were ignored, and as a result it’s an incredible waste of money,” he said.
Because the society is still working towards reaching their target, the money is in the hands of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan, which allows the society to benefit from a larger investment pool.
Since launching 24 years ago “our average five year return is eight per cent, so it will make a difference, it’s better than one or less than one per cent sitting in the bank,” said Aaron McRann, executive director of the foundation. “Obviously there are market risks, but if it’s invested over the next 10 years it’ll make a significant difference in the long run. Moving the money from the school district to SOPAC is essentially changing bank accounts because it’s just sitting there. So the SOPAC board decided to invest that money over the longterm during the process of raising capital for the project, and that’s our role.”
Some of the seats have been re-sold, but names of those who donated to the campaign were plated and are being preserved for commemoration again in the future.