It’s never easy to give up on a dream.
Especially when its an especially good one, like creating a South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre. But the likelihood of such a space being built on the empty lot at the corner of Nanaimo and Ellis is farther away than it was a decade ago.
It was a beautiful idea. With the Penticton Art Gallery and the Japanese Gardens at the end of Ellis on Okanagan Lake, the vision was a performing arts centre to anchor the other end of what could have been the community’s cultural corridor.
It might not match that early vision, but that stretch of Ellis Street is being revitalized with an eclectic mix of businesses moving in and breathing life into the area: Springer’s Gymnastics, Cannery Brewing, Hoodoo Adventures and the Mile Zero Wine Bar, to name a few.
But as the potential cost of a performing arts centre rises every year, it’s time for the SOPAC society to invest their time and energy elsewhere; it’s just to big a project to happen without massive community support, which hasn’t materialized in a decade of planning.
Venues like the Cleland Theatre or the Shatford Centre may not have all the features envisioned for the performing arts centre, but they are here, now.
Wouldn’t the SOPAC supporters energy be better used if they focused solely on these existing venues, whether that be fundraising for new gear and equipment, support acting troupes or any of a hundred other things to enhance what we already have.
Regardless, it’s time to stop asking the city to keep that valuable downtown spot of land set aside for SOPAC. The SOPAC supporters are very right about one thing; the community needs to be involved in finding an appropriate use for those city-owned lots.
Given the interesting way Ellis Street is re-developing, that lot should be put to a use that enhances both the area and the city, not just sold off for a housing project.