The Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and Western Canada Theatre will be moving into Kelson Hall, a 20,000-square-foot facility in downtown Kamloops.
Kelson Hall is at 330 St. Paul St. and is the former Telus annex building.
Philanthropists Ron and Rae Fawcett — the driving force behind a years-long bid to see a performing-arts centre rise downtown — purchased the property a few years ago for the specific purpose of housing arts groups.
Once it opens, the couple will donate Kelson Hall to the City of Kamloops.
Once renovations are completed, the KSO and WCT will move into the building this fall.
Kelson Hall will feature offices and schools, along with spaces for performances and rehearsals.
In addition, the plan is for the building to become an arts hub for the city, eventually welcoming a variety of community arts organizations, individuals and students.
“It is no secret that Rae and I are supporters of the arts here in Kamloops,” Ron Fawcett said. “We also realize that the work we have been doing on this building isn’t a secret, either, with so many people collaborating and the construction soon to wrap up. We are excited to be able to donate as a gift the fully renovated building to the City of Kamloops later this fall when the citizens of Kamloops will become the 100 per cent owners of this building. We then understand it will be leased to, and operated by, the Kamloops Symphony and Western Canada Theatre.”
Kelson Hall has a 1,700-square-foot rehearsal facility for the symphony, a 2,000-square-foot, 134-seat theatre/rehearsal hall with state-of-the-art lighting and audio for WCT, plus a 1,500-square-foot studio, complete with hardwood sprung flooring.
In January, Western Canada Theatre’s Stage One Theatre School will move into a new 1,500-square-foot studio and another 1,700-square-feet of space will be used for nine teaching classrooms for the Kamloops Symphony Music School.
The building has been designed to be fully accessible.
“Kelson Hall will prove to be an extraordinary cultural space,” said Barbara Berger, Recreation, the city’s social development, and cultural manager.
“Ron and Rae Fawcett’s passion and unwavering support of the arts is amazing, but it is their commitment as contributors in building a truly liveable community that is remarkable. The generosity of this gift is significant for building the capacity of the arts in Kamloops.”
Ron Fawcett anticipates that Kelson Hall will alleviate the need to upgrade some of the city’s current facilities, providing cost savings to taxpayers.
“Located adjacent to the current site downtown where the Kamloops Centre for the Arts could be built, Kelson Hall has been designed to support the proposed centre by including a number of amenities and much-needed spaces for Kamloops’ arts groups,” he said. “It is a completely stand-alone facility that will greatly enhance our cultural experiences. Of course, we would like to see the Kamloops Centre for the Arts move forward, but in the interim, Rae and I saw how Kelson Hall could fulfill our commitment to support our arts community in an important and meaningful way, so we jumped at the opportunity.”
Once the official handover of Kelson Hall is made to the City of Kamloops, expected to occur in October of 2022, an open house will be hosted.