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New Kelowna performing arts group would love to follow Kamloops’s example

Canadian School of Ballet’s Nutcracker Performance
Image Credit: Submitted/Citizens for a New Performing Arts Centre in Kelowna
February 17, 2021 - 6:00 PM

After a year of planning, the Citizens for a New Performing Arts Centre in Kelowna has launched its website and is looking to sign up thousands of supporters in the coming months.

It’s working with the City of Kelowna on plans to replace the Kelowna Community Theatre by 2026 and founding President Patricia Ainslie has been talking with supporters of a similar project planned for Kamloops that got a $10 million donation from philanthropist Ron Fawcett towards their $70 million project.

READ MORE: Philanthropist gets the ball rolling on Kamloops performing arts centre

“Something like that would really further our cause,” Ainslie told “They signed up 5,000 members in a couple of months so we’re hoping for 2,000 in the next few months.”

At this point, the group is looking for shows of support, inviting people to sign up on its website. It’s not asking for donations.

The City of Kelowna has set aside $100,000 this year to look at ways to fund a new performing arts centre and the citizens group is working with them to not only develop a strategy but to also find the best location.

The city’s plan is to spend $67.6 million in 2025-27 to tear down the 60-year-old Kelowna Community Theatre and build a new facility on the same site.

The citizens want to see if there’s a way to do that without first tearing down the existing building and leaving the performers without a venue for two to three years.

An alternative might be to find another site for the theatre.

READ MORE: New group pushing Kelowna to build new performing arts centre within next five years

There is also the question of how it’s to be paid for. While the city has identified the need for a new theatre in its 10 Year Capital Plan, it’s not a number one priority for those years, meaning there are no funds set aside for it.

Part of this year’s work will be to look into granting and fundraising options and have some architectural drawings done to help promote the project.

Of course, if a local philanthropist wants to jump in with a big donation, that would be most welcome, Ainslie said.

The Kamloops project was set to go to referendum last fall but that was delayed because of COVID.

READ MORE: Kamloops arts centre referendum postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic

Along with Ainslie on the seven member board are three founding members of Ballet Kelowna, Len McFarlane, the president of Kelowna Community Concerts and UBCO Dean of Creative and Critical Studies, Bryce Traister.

The board is supported by a dozen “advisors” from business, arts and education fields.

See more and sign up here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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