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Public feedback needed for Shuswap radio station’s quest for charity status

Canada Revenue Agency suggests Voice of the Shuswap lacks educational content
The non-profit Voice of the Shuswap Broadcast Society has been working with the Canada Revenue Agency to acquire charitable status. (File photo)

The Voice of the Shuswap is asking listeners to voice how the radio station’s programming has benefited their knowledge of the community and the world at large.

CKVS-FM 93.7 – The Voice of the Shuswap, is a volunteer-driven community radio station based in Salmon Arm that has been entertaining and informing residents of the region since 2012.

Run by the non-profit Voice of the Shuswap Broadcast Society (VSBS), the station’s programming menu provides a rich array of local and syndicated shows, with non-music oriented offerings ranging from Writing Out Loud with the Shuswap Writers Group, to The Legacy of Mary Thomas featuring interviews and lectures of the late, inspirational Neskonlith Elder, to Space Talks, a weekly science show with Stephen Lowry and Tim Woods, to Shuswap Food Conversations, a show focused on food security, with Warren Bell, the broadcast society’s president.

For the past couple of years, VSBS has been working with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to acquire charitable status – a process Bell has been told could take up to five years. VSBS has Vancouver-based Cadence Charity Services assisting with this endeavour.

In a most recent communication with VSBS and Cadence, Bell said the CRA had “come to the conclusion, by looking at one day of programming, that we don’t have enough educational content.”

“We’re not entirely sure what is meant by this, but our impression is that it means teaching courses or online education,” said Bell. “That is, we think, how they’re interpreting that because we actually have a great deal of educational content. Our purpose is to educate the community.”

Bell argues Voice of the Shuswap fills that purpose with its current programming, but to convince the CRA of this, he is hoping listeners might share their own testimonials.

“One of the things we’ve been told by our agent in Cadence Charities is if we get testimonials from people saying they’ve learned something helpful and useful and interesting about their community, or about the world at large, this seems to sway the CRA’s opinion about things,” said Bell, noting what the radio station offers educationally tends to focus on regional relationships and social interactions.

“We have, for example, put on radio plays that have not been played, at least in one case, for 40 years. We have music shows that feature local musical artists that would otherwise have no exposure… we have local writers who write especially for the radio station, stories of their own lives and stories that are fictional as well.

“We have all these things going on, on a regular basis. What we’re needing to do is tell the CRA that we’re perceived in the community as a source of information and educative experiences.”

Bell said having charitable status would be of huge benefit to the radio station and its ongoing operation. Looking to the Salmon Arm Art Gallery as a successful example, Bell noted it has an endowment fund set up with the Shuswap Community Foundation with a balance of more than $440,000. Interest generated from the fund is directed toward exhibition programming.

“I think we’re hoping readers can contact us and send us their report of their own experience of learning something that was valuable for them,” said Bell.

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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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