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Major sponsors needed to get new Kelowna performing arts centre built

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

While there has been talk for quite some time about building a major new performing arts centre for Kelowna, city council has been advised to put it off until at least 2032.

That means the Kelowna New Performing Arts Centre Society will have to work harder to raise as much money as it can to convince council to act sooner, especially with the price tag jumping to $100 million.

“We are disappointed but we’re not really surprised by this, of course,” society vice-president Myles Bruckal told “It reinforces that our group is on track with our dual focus of rallying public support for a new performing arts centre and building the necessary foundation for philanthropic support that will be needed to get this project off the ground in a timely manner.”

The society was formed in 2020 to promote a new performing arts centre, known then as the Citizen’s Committee for a new Performing Arts Centre.

A report that went to council last fall said until the project was put in the city’s 10 Year Capital Plan, it wasn’t going to get built.

A new report to council yesterday, June 27, says no money will be in the updated 10 Year Capital Plan so there’s no money to even start planning the project until at least 2032.

READ MORE: How inflation is hammering City of Kelowna projects and impacting residents

The society says on its website it wants it to open in 2026.

“We set a target so that we’ve got something to talk about,” Bruckal said. “We recognize that’s going to move.”

The society has been working to build public support through its website, lobbying at cultural events and soliciting the support of 18 arts and cultural groups.

It has about 400 members but a far greater reach through the cultural groups, Bruckal said.

It will set up a booth during Canada Day celebrations this Friday at the Community Showcase near the Dolphins sculpture next to Tugboat Beach downtown.

The other front they’re working on is finding the money to launch the project.

“We’re working on strategies to find major funding sources because that would be something that would kick things off,” Bruckal said. “Normally you wouldn’t go to the public for your normal fundraising – like selling a seat or your name’s going be on a brick – until you’ve got that major donor in place.”

Those donors need to have deep pockets, especially in these days of high inflation.

The report to council says building costs have gone up 40% in the last year. That means a new performing arts centre is now priced at $100 million, up from $75 million last year.

Last fall, a similar proposal for Kamloops jumped to $90 million from $70 million.

READ MORE: Kamloops performing arts centre price tag estimated $20 million higher

The Kamloops campaign was kicked off with an $8 million donation by Ron Fawcett but fizzled because of COVID, which also led to the cancellation of a referendum for the taxpayer’s share of the costs. The referendum was for taxpayers to contribute $45 million to the $70 million cost. A new referendum date has not been set.

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