An artist’s rendition of a performing arts centre shows what is possible for the former Nanaimo Hall site. SOPAC II is reinvigorating its interest in seeing if there is a need for a performing arts centre in the Penticton to serve the South Okanagan. (File photo)

Penticton to contribute $5,000 for workshop about potential performing arts centre

The South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society (SOPAC II) will match the contribution

The City of Penticton is contributing $5,000 to the South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society’s initiative to host a workshop to determine the need and wants of interest groups in the area for establishing a performing arts centre in the city.

Council heard a presentation from the new board of directors for the society at the meeting on Tuesday, where they explained they feel “it is essential to determine a grassroots vision for the future of culture in South Okanagan and Similkameen region.”

In 2017, the city agreed to grant partial funding to the society to host a symposium related to establishing a centre downtown on a city-owned lot on Ellis Avenue, but this money was not distributed as the symposium was cancelled due to “lack of matching private funds and an insufficient time frame to organize the event.”

The society will be contributing $5,000 from its reserve funds to host this proposed workshop in Oct. 2019, and will be presenting before the board for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen on July 18, requesting $5,000 as the RDOS contribution to the workshop.

The society hopes to involve representatives from not only the arts groups, but from related sectors of the economy and throughout the Southern Okanagan territory from Summerland to Osoyoos and including the Similkameen to Princeton in the workshops

“This is a much more modest and grassroots approach (than the symposium) for getting input from our community. We ran a mock workshop ourselves on May 30 with about eight to 10 volunteers so that all of us were prepared for the Oct. 25 to 27 weekend that we’re planning for,” said board member Cal Meiklejohn.

READ MORE: Poll: Do you think Penticton needs a performing arts centre?

The society included a proposed agenda and invite list for the workshop in their council presentation, which identified 38 groups in the South Okanagan and Similkameen that they felt should be represented at the workshop.

Coun. Campbell Watt stated that he was not in favour of granting the funding as it is not a public engagement session, while Coun. Katie Robinson argued she was in favour of the request so that the city would finally see some results from the society’s past plans for a performing arts centre in Penticton.

“The performing arts issue has been a subject in the community for quite some time since we’ve purchased that land on Ellis. And it’s been kicked around and discussed and debated about whether we need a performing arts centre, and whether we should put the money into it,” said Coun. Jake Kimberley. “I think this $5,000 will let people have a better understanding of what this project is all about. We’re not pursuing anything new and exciting here, other communities have done this and established their own performing arts centres and have done well with them. This is something that we need to find out from the arts and culture community, ‘Do we need this?’ The council that had purchased the property on Ellis felt that we did need to pursue this.”

Council voted 6-1 in favour of granting the society the requested $5,000, with Watt opposed.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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