Group still hopes to open theatre in Penticton

“Once the doors are open,” was at the tail end of a lot of sentences during the Penmar Community Arts Society’s annual general meeting.

Group still hopes to open theatre in Penticton

“Once the doors are open,” was at the tail end of a lot of sentences during the Penmar Community Arts Society’s annual general meeting, where the society voted to attempt another crowd funding campaign in 2016.

The phrase was used so much, that it was accepted as the tagline for the next fundraising campaign to “open the doors.” A large amount of the funding put forward for the proposed performing arts venue sits in grants which cannot be used to fund the renovations, but becomes available when the doors open.

The society is continuing their attempts to raise $165,000 in renovation costs to get the doors open and another $25,000 to keep the venue afloat for the first month of operations. An estimated $100,000 is on the table for the Penmar “once the doors are open” in provincial and federal grants. The society has drawn $61,000 of the $125,000 loan from the City of Penticton, specifically for buying equipment, the rest of those funds will be accessible upon the opening of the centre. The loan is interest free for five years and to be paid back in seven, but there is a “freeze put on it until the doors open,” said Kerri Milton, president of the Penmar Society.

It would be a quick turnaround to open when the money for renovations is raised, around six to eight weeks, said board member Jennifer Vincent.

The historical downtown theatre has been rent free for the society for the past few years thanks to the generosity of the owner’s group, however, starting Jan. 1, 2016 the property will be available for lease. The monthly rent on the property is just over $5,000.

Renovations to two auditoriums are complete with chairs ordered, screens up and walls painted. However, that work would be for naught if a party makes an offer and wants to lease the building, the society gets a chance to show where the project is at, but at a certain point they are “out of luck” Milton said. Should the building be leased out, the renovations, the chairs and the equipment are “gone,” Milton said.

Milton said that the owner’s group is in contact with the society and there are no buyers lining up for the property as of yet.

“There is nobody looking to get in. It’s a very specific building,” Milton said, noting the unique renovations needed.

The option of a co-op to allow members of the community buy in to the ownership of the building is also still on the table. A motion was carried to move forward as a society with another crowd-funding campaign.

There is no set date for the new fundraiser, but Milton said it will be held early in 2016. It won’t necessarily be held the same as the Kickstarter fundraiser in December as the society is looking to learn from, and add onto, their initial attempt.

Overall, Milton thought the meeting showed promise that the project could move ahead.