Philanthropist gets the ball rolling on Kamloops performing arts centre

Rae Fawcett and Ron Fawcett sit together at Kamloops city council on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019.

KAMLOOPS - It was standing room only in Kamloops council chambers as a new vision for a performing arts centre was presented.

Ron Fawcett, president of Kelson Group Property Management, led the delegation offering the Telus Annex building, which has a value of approximately $8 to $10 million, for a performing arts center. He also funded the preliminary stages of the new design as a gift to his community.

Today, Jan. 8, Fawcett asked city council to consider including the planning and development of the proposed performing arts centre in the 2019 Strategic Plan and council agreed unanimously.

Fawcett was joined by theatre consultant Robert Hamilton from DWD Theatre Design, as well as two archictects Justin Dyck and Leon Schroeder with CHP Architects.

Located on the former Kamloops Daily News site at 393 Seymour St., the city's investment for this new performing arts centre is costed at around $70 million, incuding Fawcett's donation. The Annex building will add 20,000 square feet to the centre allowing space for rehearsals and administration.

The proposal calls for three theatres seating 1,200, 450 and 100, a cafe and outdoor cafe area, and 70 underground parking spaces.

The plan is supported by the local arts community including Western Canada Theatre, Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and Kamloops Art Gallery. 

After the failed referendum in 2015, Fawcett began working on what he thought would be a stronger proposal. He listened too advocates from across the city and hired the design team that joined him at city council today. With the population of Kamloops nearing 100,000, stakeholders believe Kamloops is ready for the facility.

"This project would be a major part of the planned downtown revitalization," Fawcett said in a release. "A catalyst for new development in the downtown core and a centre of excellence our community can be proud of."

Fawcett says it's up to the city to make a decision about the next phase of the development and he doesn't anticipate construction to start for another couple of years.

Find past stories on a performing arts centre for Kamloops here.


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