May 06, 2015 - 7:26 PM
KAMLOOPS – Those against the proposed performing arts centre say the price is too high but members of Kamloops’ arts community say this space is sorely needed and this is the price of a vibrant community.
Kamloops Arts Council Excutive Director Kathy Sinclair, Western Canada Theatre General Manager Lori Marchand and Kim Enns, artistic director of Akimbo Dance Studio, all have a slightly different perspective on what a performing arts centre will mean for the city.
While few people at the city’s open house on April 18 said the arts were not valuable, there was a lot of concern over the $90-million price tag.
“We have no official position on the price,” Sinclair says, adding it is her understanding this is the price of doing business.
Marchand feels what the city has proposed is a conservative estimate and the price is achievable. Enns adds, as a tax payer herself, a two per cent increase in taxes is affordable.
“People need to know the facts before making a decision… they immediately gasp at the number,” she says, adding she believes the city has spent as much, or more, on other facilities in the past.
Beyond the initial price tag, all three wants residents to look at the big picture and see what a vibrant arts community can do for the city.
“Arts are revenue positive. They bring social and economic wealth to a community,” Marchand says.
She wants residents to look at both the arts and the centre as an investment. She says 85 to 95 percent of spin-off revenues are spent locally, and points to dinner and drinks before a show, or out-of-towners renting hotel rooms as examples.
Sinclair agrees, calling the arts an economic driver. She says not only are they important for tourism, but a community rich in culture attracts professionals and new residents to the city.
All three agree there is a definite need for space in the city. User groups are constantly fighting for stages and, save for a few sporadic dates at Sagebrush, the theatre is full.
“(Interior Savings Centre) is not an ideal venue for artists,” Sinclair says, citing the acoustics for musical acts.
Enns says a hockey arena is not an ideal forum for the National Ballet either, as the space lacks intimacy and advertisements across the boards take away from the performance. She adds a lot of these types of performances likely skip Kamloops because of Interior Savings Centre being the only other performance venue.
Enns also says the Sagebrush did not serve well for dance, calling the theatre ‘decrepit.’ The stage is uneven and nail heads protrude from the wood, forcing her studio to lay down additional flooring on top of the stage. She says the 'downstage' area is completely hollow as well, changing the sound her tap students produce when moving front and back on stage.
While Marchand does not have the same criticisms of Sagebrush, calling the theatre, for her purposes, a ‘beautiful space,’ she agreed with the sentiment of the others. She points to theatre performances that were forced to close early, even after a very favourable reception, because her group was unable to book additional dates.
According to Sinclair, the arts council will be supportive of anything that enhances the arts in Kamloops. She adds there is a great ‘scene’ in town and it is very deserved of support and engagement.
Marchand agrees, adding Kamloops is a city with a great location and very favourable climate, making it conducive to open-air performances and longer seasons. She believes Kamloops has the most potential in the country.
Enns agrees with Mayor Milobar when he said, during the preliminary business case presentation, the Sagebrush Theatre was once also seen as a gigantic project and today, the theatre is at capacity and now there is a need to build something bigger and better.
“Build it and they will come!” Enns adds.
It is expected council will make a decision on whether to send the centre to a fall referendum by the end of the month.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015