With music provided by drummer Bobby Bovenzi and an assortment of musicians jamming on stage in the revitalized recital hall at the Shatford Centre, along with local historian Randy Manuel passing along tidbits about the past of the historic old building, the atmosphere in the revitalized recital hall at the Shatford Centre was festive.
It all set the stage for an announcement from Okanagan Coquihalla MP Stockwell Day that brightened the day for those working to turn the Shatford into an arts and cultural centre. Back in 1921, when the building was built, Manuel told the crowd, setting the stage for the minister’s funding announcement, the construction costs were $45,000.
Day seized on the cost differences between then and now as he announced a further $300,000 the federal government is investing in the Shatford Centre project.
“When you look at the difference in cost between then and now, it’s significant,” he said. “But we know with the people that have been working on this project, we’re still getting great value for money.”
The $300,000 is being provided through the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan. This funding will supplement an initial investment of $400,000 to create a training and entrepreneurial development centre to foster skills development through the arts. The new centre will offer programming and training for residents in the entire South Okanagan Region, building on existing business and entrepreneurial training initiatives offered through the Okanagan School of the Arts.
“Supporting Okanagan School of the Arts’ new training centre will create jobs and maintain employment, helping our communities overcome the challenges currently facing our region,” said Day. “When we first looked at it and the hard working people that are involved and had the vision to see this place continue and see it open up even more, not just through the arts but through entrepreneurial training, allowing people to come in here and gain skills that will allow them to be even more effective out in the world beyond these walls.”
“Walking in today and seeing the difference, just in this room alone, this is beautiful,” said Day.
The project, which has been underway physically since last year, has been on the goals list of the OSA since 2004.
“It’s a fabulous week, talk about spirit,” said Samarpan Faasse, executive director of the OSA. She’s referring to the week-long Spirit Festival ongoing in the Shatford right now, showcasing some of the uses the building might be put to when it opens in April.
“It was fabulous to hear from Minister Day that this was a day that worked for him,” she said, adding that while they knew the funding announcement was coming, having it happen during the Spirit Festival week was a bit of serendipity. “It couldn’t have been more perfect.”
Much of the money, said architect Chris Allen, will go to upgrading the building’s electrical system. During the renovations they discovered having the power supplied through Penticton Secondary’s connection to the grid wasn’t going to be enough for the needs of the new centre.
Now, they will be able to install a separate connection to the power grid for the Shatford, providing enough power to run the elevator for disabled access as well as handle the power needs of the shops and commercial kitchen they hope to eventually install in the building.
There were also items discovered during the course of the renovations that cost more than they expected, said Faasse.
“Some things cost more than you expect when you are into an old building like this,” she said. “We’re just so grateful that the government of Canada saw that … we worked through the ups and downs and challenges of them being able to say yes for more funding here.”
“The plan is to be finished this phase on March 31 and we will be opening with some regular kind of hours in April,” said Faasse. Phase 1 is getting the whole building operational explained OSA president Jane Shaak. After that, there will still be a lot of remedial work that needs to be done for the upkeep of the building itself, as well as future developments like installing a commercial kitchen, which will both serve as a teaching space and catering for events at the centre.
“There is all these other things but the reality is, April 1 we expect to be open to the public and just kind of improve it from there,” said Shaak.
The Shatford Centre Spirit Festival culminates today and tomorrow, starting with free drop-in creativity classes on Friday: Seniors from 10 a.m. to noon, children from 1 to 3 p.m. and teens from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, the centre opens its doors to the entire family for an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. followed by the Culinary Theatre Finale dinner in the evening.
More information about the project and the Spirit Week Festival is available online at www.shatfordcentre.com.