To the editor:
During this whole COVID period, culture and arts have been our collective saviour. Whether you are reading, binge watching a Netflix series, painting rocks, doing a virtual museum tour, listening to your CD collection, watching the live streaming of plays or operas, or just hanging out in YouTube and enjoying the originality of musicians, singers, comedians, and performers expressing their artistry using Zoom, window ledges, and balconies, chances are you would have been in a major funk without some form of the arts to help you through the last few months.
Therefore, as we come out of our isolation fog, it is a shame to see the doors of Penticton’s major cultural centre being closed. School District 67 is about to kick out the Okanagan Summer School of the Arts from the Shatford Centre, the only place in the city where all cultural and community groups were able to congregate whether for meetings, rehearsals, displays, lectures, classes, performances, or fundraising activities.
It is evident that many organizations, including SD67, are suffering financially from the COVID shutdown, but there must be a better solution than shutting the doors completely and leaving this heritage building to gather dust while creating a cultural void in the city.
Ideally, there would be a benefactor in our midst who could come in and save it. Barring that, maybe it’s time for some of the organizations and major arts groups in the area to come together. Imagine what a cultural centrepiece the Shatford could be if the Okanagan Summer School of the Arts (OSA), Penticton & District Community Arts Council (PDCAC), the South Okanagan Creative & Performing Arts Centre (SOPAC), the Penmar Community Arts Society, along with the City and Regional District (RDOS), joined financial and philosophical forces.
I hope SD67 comes to its senses and finds a reasonable solution that would allow the OSA to stay and operate the Shatford Centre as a cultural hub. After all, there will soon come a time when we will leave our homes and will want a space to enjoy the arts again as a community.
Leslie Manion, Penticton
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