Sagebrush Theatre closure highlights the need for arts infrastructure in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Sagebrush Theatre closure highlights the need for arts infrastructure in Kamloops

A photo of a handout depicting a rendering of a new performing arts centre in downtown Kamloops distributed at the Jan. 8, 2019 city council meeting.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/CHP Architects
February 22, 2019 - 4:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - The closure of Sagebrush Theatre is putting pressure on the arts community and local politicians to get going on a new performing arts centre.

With no end in sight for the repairs to the Sagebrush's roof, Kamloops Symphony Orchestra are already relocating their shows up until May.

Art McDonald with School District 73 says today engineers are onsite working on the roof but he cannot speculate as to when the theatre will reopen, or how much it will cost the school district that owns the space.

“We’ve put in some temporary supports to make sure nothing further happens to the truss,” McDonald says in a phone interview. “Our engineers have been in to look at it and they’re in the process of coming up with some solutions.”

Instead of the 685 seat theatre, the orchestra's shows will be moved to Oasis Church in the Aberdeen neighbourhood.

Kathy Humphreys, with the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, says while she is grateful they were able to find a venue for their shows, the closure of Sagebrush speaks to the need for a performing arts centre in Kamloops.

"I think the community really is getting a bit of a wake up call now about the importance of facilities — of the infrastructure— that’s needed for the arts community," Humphreys says in a phone interview. "We have the artists, we have the fantastic creative activities, but we are really lacking the infrastructure. So I hope that’s going to change soon."

Humphreys says the orchestra's budget is tight, and this change of venue is costing them more money, pressuring human resources as well as affecting ticket sales that were closed until today.

"Having to go to a place that is not set up as a performance venue means that we’re going to have to provide some of the amenities that our audience expects, and that we would like them to have for them to be comfortable, is going to mean that we’re going to need a large number of volunteers or more hired staff on site," she explains.

Mayor Ken Christian says since the emergency repairs started he has been seeing more correspondence from the public about a new performing arts centre. He says he has been telling people that the school district is working diligently to repair the roof, and that a new performing arts centre is a part of the strategic plan, which will return to council next month.

"This problem with Sagebrush is quite a disaster for the arts community but the two issues are not necessary related, because there is virtually nothing we can do on the (Performing Arts Centre) front that's going to solve this problem," Christian says in a phone interview.

The performing arts centre project was adopted into the strategic plan in January after Ron Fawcett donated a space, and design template for a downtown location that would include a 1,200 seat theatre. The project would come up to about $70 million, including Fawcett's nearly $10 million donation. There is currently no concrete timeline for when the centre will be functional.

For Humphreys, a new performing arts centre is overdue in Kamloops.

"It’s been overdue for a good 10 years or more," she says. "I think now is the time to get behind providing those facilities."

READ MORE: Why Vernon is moving forward with arts and culture facilities — and Kamloops isn't

Go here to see past articles on performing arts centres in the region.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shelby Thevenot or call (250) 819-6089 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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