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Penmar Society working against time to save Penmar building

Timelines are getting tight as a fundraising effort begins to raise enough money to finish the Penmar Community Arts Centre on Martin Street.
Image Credit: photo contributed
November 30, 2015 - 2:38 PM

PENTICTON - It’s do or die this month for the PenMar Community Arts Theatre initiative.

The Penmar Community Arts Society has just 15 days to raise $190, 000 to complete the restoration of the Penmar theatre building or the project faces the very real prospect of being lost.

As of noon on Monday, Nov. 30, $3,575 had been raised in the latest bid to save the 59-year-old building on Martin Street, according to society President Kerri Milton.

“If we don’t get the money we need to finish the last of it, which is the bathrooms and the lobby, the front doors and the facade, the ownership will just take it back and most likely demolish it,” Milton says.

At stake is $450,000 worth of investment in the project so far.

Milton says anything that’s physical in the way of improvements — digital equipment, seats, screens — will be sold off to pay back what’s owed and the rest would go down with the building.

“It would be really sad, because there has been not only a lot of money, but a lot of hard work in volunteer hours that have gone into finishing floors and painting walls and ceilings, all kinds of things,” she says.

Milton says there is no “Plan B” and no opportunity to open the doors in a semi-finished state.

“This is first of a phased opening, to open theatres three and four, but we can’t get occupancy until the bathrooms and the front doors are up to code. So that’s the problem, we need to get occupancy to get people into the building,” she says, noting that has frustrated the group because a number of good fundraising ideas have come to the board’s attention - ideas that can be utilized once patrons are using the building.

“But we can’t have anyone in the building, because it’s a construction site,” she explains.

The Community Arts Society has begun a Kickstarter campaign, launching the website this past weekend. Along with a video, there is an explanation of what the society is up against and how local residents can help.

“We’re going to have ongoing videos coming out, as the money goes up, showing people the finished theatres and equipment, and really get them through so they can see what’s actually happening,” Milton says.

Milton is optimistic there will be a “miracle on Martin Street” in time to save the project.

She’s not so sure of any opportunities for a reprieve following the mid-December deadline, however.

“In fairness to the ownership, they haven’t received any rent since Landmark left following the expiry of their lease in late 2012. We were able to pay taxes this last year, but they’ve paid for most of the bills over the past three years. There’s nothing they’d like better than to have us come up with the money as well, get the doors open. Then everything would be a win-win. But I respect that, they have mortgages to pay,” Milton says.

For more information on the project and how to make a donation, see the Kickstarter website page.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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