August 12, 2013 - 8:30 AM
VERNON - When they eventually go to referendum, the museum and art gallery want to make sure they ask the community the right question—or questions—to garner support for a new downtown cultural hub.
The vision is to move the Vernon Public Art Gallery from its current location in the basement of the parkade to 31st Avenue, on the old Vernon Flower Shop site. Meanwhile, the Greater Vernon Museum would get a structural overhaul with new space for exhibits and meeting areas.
"Right now, we're in a basement on a side street with poor visibilty," executive director for the art gallery Dauna Kennedy Grant says. "The art gallery and the museum are the two working organizations that will be the basis for expanded culture in the downtown core."
She says the art gallery has been looking for a better location closer to other cultural facilities, for at least 30 years, and is excited to be moving closer to a referendum asking for support to do so.
"We kept getting pushed aside by other projects," Kennedy Grant says. "When you look at other cultural centres (such as Kelowna) you'll see it's very glaring that it's missing from Vernon."
Rob Tupper, who sits on the museum board of directors, says the two facilities would help each other, and downtown, to thrive. The museum and gallery have decided to pool resources and approach a referendum as a united front.
"The museum and the art gallery have the same goals," Tupper says. "There's a natural fit to working together."
The gallery move and the museum upgrade are both estimated at $6 million, and before they go to the public, they want to make sure they've done their homework. That's why they're asking Greater Vernon for some expert advice.
"The actual request we posed to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee was for staff support along the lines of what was given to parks and recreation when they were going for the sports track," Tupper says. "Their input will be important to how we frame the question, if it's one question or two."
Tupper believes a single question, asking for support of an expanded cultural centre could be the way to go.
"Personally, I think asking for support of an expanded art gallery and museum over time—not both simultaneously—would be the thing to do," Tupper says.
Both parties would like to have the referendum in the spring of 2014, rather than one later in the year, when municipal elections threaten to steal the spotlight.
"We've been working on this a long time and we're ready to go," Kennedy Grant says.
Greater Vernon directors voted unanimously to lend staff support to the museum and art gallery as they plan for the proposed spring 2014 referendum.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013