The group behind the push for a performing-arts centre in Kamloops has begun selling society memberships, a move that aims to demonstrate community support for the proposed $70-million project.
Kamloops Centre for the Arts Society hopes to sell 7,000 memberships in a drive this fall. It held a soft launch last week at Music in the Park in Riverside Park, drumming up support and contact information and gauging public knowledge about the project.
Board director Brenda Aynsley said about 120 memberships were sold, with the first membership purchased by Mayor Ken Christian. Coun. Kathy Sinclair, who has advocated for an arts centre in the past and was formerly executive director of the Kamloops Arts Council, also signed on.
The memberships cost $2 and are not intended to be part of fundraising for the facility, but to establish ground-level support.
“We’re doing that so that we can establish community support and have contact information for people, so we can let them know how things are going, learn more about the project and the process and also find volunteers who are interested in helping us build out this society,” Aynsley said.
“There were a lot of people who know that it’s happening — and resounding support. ‘Oh, we’re so glad that you’re doing this,’” Aynsley said.
“But there’s people who still don’t, they’re not aware that this is something that’s happening in the community.
“We’ll be working on our communications strategy.”
The group formed as a society about a month ago and does not yet have a website or an online method to purchase memberships.
Fundraising plans have also yet to be hammered out, in addition to a business case that will go to council.
Aynsley said Kamloops residents who wish to purchase a membership or volunteer should watch for the group at public events before the official membership drive begins in September.
Ron and Rae Fawcett resurrected the arts centre proposal earlier this year, following a failed referendum in 2015 that saw voters nix a proposed $91-million facility downtown at Seymour Street and Fourth Avenue.
The new proposal is at the same location, with a price tag of about $70 million.
The Fawcetts provided a new plan, in addition to donating the Telus annex building on St. Paul Street to provide space for arts groups. That donation is estimated to be worth between $8 million and $10 million.