Performing-arts centre: Where, when, how?
A new museum, access to shopping, an auditorium with decent acoustics, a good bar.
These are a few of the features Kamloopsians want to see in a new performing-arts centre, according to the approximately 200 participants who turned out to the city’s first public input session on the weekend.
The mixed-age crowd spent three hours at the Tournament Capital Centre on Saturday, Feb. 23, talking everything from design priorities to possible partnerships the city could pursue if it eventually commits to the as-yet-unfunded project.
Jessie Paynter, an assistant technical director for Western Canada Theatre, said Sagebrush Theatre, where she works, doesn’t work well for choral groups or all kinds of productions.
“It’s a great space,” Paynter said of Sagebrush. “I love that space, but there’s a lot of problems with it.”
She wants to see a larger theatre that can accommodate more types of acts — and which doesn’t have to worry about disruptions if the high school next door stages a fire drill.
Colleen Stainton, who is retired, said she’d like to see the theatre somewhere downtown, where it would be accessible to seniors and guests in the area’s recently renovated hotels.
She thinks the west end of Lorne Street, where the Pavilion Theatre stands, might fit the bill.
A few attendees, however, were there to raise concerns about what they see as a costly project that will only benefit a niche group.
“My favourite thing is performing arts but, as a city, can we afford another multi-million dollar project?” asked Eugene Allgaier, who came to the meeting to raise his concerns about Kamloops’ debt levels.
Allgaier believes a performing-arts centre would appeal to about five per cent of the public “and the other 95 per cent would have to pay for it.”
John O’Fee, former city councillor and current CAO of the Tk’emlups Indian Band, said he thinks that’s a low estimate.
“You’re saying 95 per cent of Kamloopsians never go to a concert?” he said.
O’Fee said a performing-arts centre will make the community more liveable and help it attract doctors and other critical professionals.
That, he said, is worth the cost.
“Take a look at the fastest-growing cities and I guarantee you they’re not the places with the lowest taxes,” O’Fee said.
“They’re the places where you want to be.”
SUGGESTIONS FROM THE DREAM BOARD:
Here are a few ideas, as marked down in various colours at the public-information meeting at the Tournament Capital Centre:
— “Lobby with view, bar and space for pre-program presentations.”
— “The new building could also house the Big Little Science Centre.”
— “We need a new museum.”
— “Place to hang artwork and a nice place to eat.”
— “Put it downtown, on the 300-block between Seymour and St. Paul streets, with parking underground.”
— “It’s got to be better than what Kelowna has.”
— “Reality - only one taxpayer.”