I am neither an employee of Western Canada Theatre or Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, nor do I represent them or their opinions on the proposed Kamloops Centre for the Arts.
I am an on-call technician employed by Sagebrush Theatre, which is owned by the Kamloops-Thompson school district and operated by the school district and City of Kamloops.
I have a full-time career outside of the theatre and work as a technician on my days off because I love everything about live performances.
When people argue that Sagebrush Theatre cannot be filled with shows now, what they fail to realize is it is about availability, not capacity.
There are arguments online based on misinformation that when the two biggest arts companies are not using the venue, it remains an unused waste of space. That is not true.
What people fail to recognize is that the school district and city are entitled to a certain number of bookings a year. I have worked high school band shows, graduations, award ceremonies, rehearsals — all the bookings that are not publicly advertised because they are for parents, family members and teachers.
Between those two factions and the many other groups booking Sagebrush, there is such a shortage of available dates that WCT, KSO, dance schools and touring performers need to book the theatre a year or two in advance.
In addition to the groups noted above, there are many other non-profit organizations fighting for the use of that space, but have had to use other locations because of the lack of availability.
If people don’t want to vote for the proposed arts centre, fine, but don’t use the argument that Sagebrush Theatre is a “good enough” venue for Kamloops without first educating themselves.
The space is too small for many professional and most touring shows. I have seen shows that have been unable to utilize all of their equipment due to lack of space on stage.
Many groups have had to simplify their shows in order to make them fit in the space at Sagebrush just to make it look “good enough” for the audience.
Kamloops doesn’t deserve just “good enough.” Kamloops deserves better.
I would also like to make a point that Sagebrush Theatre is attached to a high school. The doors open into the school’s hallway and you can hear the school bells ring from the seats and stage in the theatre.
The sounds coming from the school are a distraction, not only to audience members, but for the performers as well.
For those who think our current theatre situation is good enough, I encourage them to do a bit more research, go to information meetings and talk to the Kamloops Centre for the Arts Society about why the city needs a better facility.
I am not looking to sway votes. I am simply asking people to educate themselves before arguing this proposal was voted down five years ago.
Take the time to talk to those in the arts community who use the current venues because there is always a side to the story that has not been seen or heard.