The Penmar Community Arts Society is hoping that its latest plea for help won’t be its dying breath.
Nearly half-a-million dollars has been raised to revive the historic theatre, but the group is about $190,000 shy from bringing the project to life. After launching the initiative two-and-a-half years ago, it’s now do or die.
“The ownership group is tired of waiting and if this doesn’t happen, the doors will be closed forever and the Penmar will become apartment buildings,” said president Kerri Milton. “This building’s been in the downtown since 1956 so there’s a lot of emotional attachment to it. It’s been part of many peoples lives and the last thing anyone wants is to see it demolished.”
As an extra effort to reach the target, Milton has applied through Kickstarter to begin an online fundraising campaign, which she said is awaiting the approval process.
With the efforts that have been made so far, auditoriums three and four have been refinished to include new chairs and digital projection equipment.
“It’s totally different than two-and-a-half years ago,” Milton said.
Those investments won’t be of any use for an apartment complex.
Milton doesn’t want to imagine the PenMar losing its designation as a theatre, but if it happens, the board will have to decide how to salvage its unneeded assets.
“A lot of private business and enterprise have put a lot of time, effort and money into this project,” she said. “Everybody on the board is a volunteer, they’re all very passionate. They’re acting upon a demand from the community. The community really wanted to see this happen and requested it, so we’re working diligently to make that a go.”
If the society closes in on the target without reaching it, the board will evaluate the situation during the annual general meeting on Dec. 16.
The Society launched a co-operative initiative in September, inviting the community to invest in owning and maintaining the PenMar property, which will augment the Society’s role in overseeing day-to-day operations.
“If you’re an investor in the co-op it is strictly to buy the land and the property,” Milton said.
If the PenMar Society folds, the co-op will follow.
“The current ownership group will take back the PenMar and we’ll have to dissolve everything.”
Milton praised the current owners for being ‘incredibly generous’ for going 2.5 years without earning any rent from the building.
To visit the Penmar’s Kickstarter page, visit tinyurl.com/pkfot4g.