LETTERS: Keep the arts dream alive

Why do we need a new and bigger theatre when we have the Cleland Theatre and other privately operated theatres?

The South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society (SOPAC) is still active in promoting the need for a purpose-built theatre on the corner of Nanaimo and Ellis Street.

The land was purchased by the city as the best location for a new 750-seat theatre.

When built it would undoubtably stimulate and revitalize the economy in the downtown core. It would certainly encourage more residential development in the core.

Many times I’m asked the question, “why do we need a new and bigger theatre when we have the Cleland Theatre and other privately operated theatres?”

The answer is the Cleland Theatre, like the other privately owned and operated theatres, have their limitations. For example they do not have the amenities to accommodate professional touring shows such as Vernon and Kelowna can now accommodate in their purpose-built theatres. For example, an orchestra pit is essential for professional shows. Also, the present venues do not have the seating capacity to make a professional show economically feasible.

Kamloops is now trying to catch up with Kelowna and Vernon, they are taking the question to build a 1,200-seat theatre to referendum in November.  These purpose-built theatres are not just for visitors/tourists they also help to enhance the lifestyle of city residents and residents in the South Okanagan.  It is a known fact, culture such as the performing arts has become the number one economic generator for municipalities across the country.

If Penticton had a purpose-built performing arts theatre the city could collaborate with Kelowna, Vernon and possibly Kamloops. Collectively, the four cities could make it worthwhile for professional, top-rated shows to tour through the Okanagan valley.  The Okanagan would gain a reputation for hosting the performing arts similar to what Ashland in Oregon has achieved, an economic return of over a million dollars annually to their smaller city.

The South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre may not get built for a few years but we need to keep this objective alive, not only to enhance our lifestyle here in our city but to help revitalize the overall economy in the downtown core.

If you have an interest in the development of a purpose built performing arts centre here in Penticton please attend our annual general meeting at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18 at the Shatford building on Main Street. Note: this date has been moved from the date earlier announced.    We will have a guest speaker there. So, Please help  keep this dream alive, get involved.

Jake Kimberley

President SOPAC