October 19, 2016 - 10:30 AM
PENTICTON - Members of the South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society has approached Penticton city council in the hopes of getting some encouragement to continue their theatre project, but will have to wait another three months for council’s blessing, if it comes.
The society envisions a 750 seat main theatre along with a 250 seat studio theatre to be constructed on a parking lot at the corner of Ellis Street and Nanaimo Avenue.
Society members Allan Markin and Gerry Kenyon are seeking council’s expression of support for the project in order to provide the group with some backing as they attempt to find private donors.
The society, which formed in 1995, envisions a facility that will “optimize and share the creative capacity of artists and performers in the region,” adding the venue would go beyond entertainment in its scope to the community by providing a regional arts production training centre in addition to state of the art performance spaces, Marken says.
Markin says the site is located in the Ellis Street Cultural Precinct and the proposal is still part of the official downtown plan. He said while the group didn’t expect to see the project built overnight, it was a vision for the city that needed to be embraced for the longer term. Markin says the project had been shelved since the 2008 downturn, and some assistance was needed to find some money to finance the project.
The society has been working to share their vision through widespread community consultation, exploring possible operational options and working with the Penmar group, the art gallery and the Shatford Centre to come to an understanding of how the groups might work together.
Markin also asked city council some future in-kind staff assistance and a five year window of security restricting development of the property to allow the group to move forward.
“Without that window, we won’t get far,” he says.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit called the project a “great vision,” but said operational costs needed to be known up front in order to get community support.
Council voted to refer the matter back to staff for 90 days for an informal workshop and to "flesh out further details."
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