October 14, 2015 - 8:00 PM
MERRITT - One Merritt community group hopes to bring more arts and culture to the Nicola Valley by way of a new performing arts centre.
Nicola Valley Community Theatre Society recently accomplished the first step in a five-step master plan by purchasing a property for the new centre.
Funding for the project is planned through lobbying different levels of government and donations from both corporations and individual citizens. Currently, more than 20 local businesses and three times as many individual donors have already donated.
Society director Kurt Christopherson says a centre is needed in Merritt because there isn’t a suitable location in town for performances.
“We have a civic centre, there’s no permanent stage. It’s the same with seating, we stack them up at the end of the evening,” he explains.
The proposed 14,000-square-foot facility will be located at Garcia Street and Coutlee Avenue in Merritt. Drawings show it will have four movie theatres, with the largest 250 seat theatre being designated multi-purpose for performances. When not hosting cultural events, the society hopes the theatres will generate revenue for productions or other community projects in the Nicola Valley.
“Movie theatres with a performing arts centre are a little bit of a unique idea,” Christopherson says, explaining that in a town the size of Merritt it might not be feasible to build a building that isn't in constant use.
The project is currently in phase two of the five-part plan. The next four steps include architectural drawings and a business case, building permits, actual construction and purchasing equipment and furniture for the facility. The society estimates the entire project will cost roughly $4.4 million, with $3.2 million of that in construction alone.
The society requests donations in the form of sponsorship. Individuals can purchase a floor tile, a brick or a seat — all to be used in the theatre — for between $20 and $250. .
The Nicola Valley Community Theatre Society was founded in 2011 to provide land and procure building equipment to help create a community-owned performing arts centre. The society hopes to showcase live music and concerts, plays and dance performances, even recreational activities, at the centre.
Kamloops residents will vote on a purposed performing arts centre in a Nov. 7 referendum. The centre is expected to cost $90 million and will be financed in part by a two percent tax hike for twenty years.
Floor plan's of Merritt's proposed performing arts centre.
Image Credit: Nicola Valley Theatre Society
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