A model of the proposed performing arts centre. (File photo)

Column: Salmon Arm could take cues from other communities with arts centres

Shuswap Passion by Jim Cooperman

The Shuswap supports a vibrant cultural scene and yet one “big idea” that has yet to become reality is a centre for the arts.

An arts centre would provide much needed venues for large and small events, including theatre, music and dance.

Given a city sponsored project has begun to develop a cultural master plan, it would be good to have a look at the facilities that other communities of similar size have to support the arts.

Now that a giant treble clef identifies Salmon Arm as a music-focused city, the next step is to build a cultural centre where great music can be heard throughout the year.

Very close in size to Salmon Arm, is Cranbrook in the East Kootenays, which has the 602-seat Key City Theatre that includes an art gallery. Art-lovers began working on the project in the mid-1970s and, a decade later, thanks to a partnership between the school district and the city, with support from the provincial government and local citizens, that theatre was built totally debt-free. It hosts about 100 events a year, including concerts, dance recitals, community events and conferences.

The cultural scene also flourishes far to the north in Fort St. John, where the North Peace Cultural Centre, built in 1992, includes the city library, meeting rooms, a cafe and an art gallery. In the very heart of this resource-based city, the Centre hosts a 412-seat theatre and provides a home for the local theatre society, a dance school, a choir, educational programs and school productions. Its unique lobby and concourse stretches for an entire city block.

Much smaller communities than Salmon Arm also have impressive facilities. In Duncan, which has a similar brand, “Small town, Big experience,” and where the population is just under 5,000, there is the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. It includes a 731-seat proscenium arch theatre used by local groups, touring musicians and as a conference and convention facility. The centre is run by the regional district as part of it arts and culture division.

Read more: Performing arts centre faces obstacles

Read more: Performers sing their support for performing arts centre

Read more: Performing Arts Centre moves to next stage

Just to the east is Revelstoke, where the school district, in co-operation with the arts council, built a 275-seat performing arts centre in 2012. The venue hosts a diverse line-up of music, film, theatre and dance for all ages. The current line-up includes ballet, a brass band, an Arts Club Theatre Company production and the much-loved singer-songwriter and storyteller, Irish Mythen.

Despite its small population of just over 4,000 people, the town of Oliver hosts the 400-seat Frank Venables Theatre, built in 2014 by the school district where a popular art-deco style auditorium burnt down in 2010. The non-profit Oliver Community Theatre Society, with support from the regional district, operates the venue which hosts touring artists, as well as community events. Upcoming shows include a classic piano duo, an Eagles tribute band and an amateur theatre company production.

While Colwood and Langford do not yet have a facility, they are closer to building one than Salmon Arm. The Juan de Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society, formed in 2016, has developed a comprehensive plan to build a 650-seat theatre along with a 24-seat black box theatre, plus a dance studio, retail and office space, a restaurant,coffee shop and a gallery. Their prospectus could serve useful for developing the Salmon Arm cultural plan.

One of the chapters in volume two of Everything Shuswap will be about arts and culture, which is certainly plentiful in the Shuswap. Hopefully, the chapter will include some good news about plans for a performing arts venue that provides a diversity of cultural programs and that matches those found in many other British Columbia communities.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Just Posted

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s Shuswap stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling into region on Dec. 14

Salmon Arm farmer’s market moved indoors

The last market will take place Dec. 7

Interior Health issues warning about opioid-laced stimulants causing recent overdoses

Interior Health is urging residents using or considering using drugs to reconsider… Continue reading

Salmon Arm RCMP say budget cuts won’t impact service

Police force, facing $10.7-million budget shortfall, says it won’t compromise public safety

Salmon Arm boxer hopes to fund Olympic dream

Supporters show they’re in Jordyn Konrad’s corner

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

B.C. First Nations drop out of court challenge, sign deals with Trans Mountain

Upper Nicola Band says deal represents a ‘significant step forward’

Okanagan philanthropists treated to moving speech on National Philanthropy Day

David Roche shared his message to the Association of Fundraising Professionals and non-profits

Most Read