Salmon Arm council was reluctant to make any decisions on a proposed performing arts centre, at least until the city’s cultural master plan is complete.
In a presentation at the Monday, July 27 council meeting, Jake Jacobson, on behalf of the Shuswap Society for the Arts and Culture, invited the mayor and councillors to imagine a facility capable of seating up to 600 people and serve the community for 70 to 80 years, a building that could be used for townhall meetings, concerts, theatre and dance, lectures and a convention centre.
“Not only will it serve as a performing arts centre and cultural hub, it could be a permanent home for non-profit organizations…,” said Jacobson.
Fundraising is underway for a feasibility study and Jacobson said a floor plan and a site survey of more than 17 potential locations have been completed.
“Our next step is to pick a location so organizations can see this project as reality,” said Jacobson. “One of the best locations we’ve found for this centre would be part of the two-hectare city property between the Downtown Activity Centre and the Salvation Army building… it would be a perfect fit alongside a junior soccer court and possibly an outdoor walking and running track.”
Jacobson’s asks to council were for a liaison who would work with the society, as well a list from the city of what would be needed to secure and lease an appropriate piece of land.
Coun. Louise Wallace-Richmond, who chairs the city’s Cultural Master Plan Task Force, said a draft of the master plan would come before council within weeks. She advised waiting for it, as well as the completion of the society’s feasibility study, before making any decisions.
“Having said that, the idea of being prepared by having a liaison and knowing under what conditions the city would or would not agree t0 leasing that land would be helpful to the process,” said Wallace-Richmond.
“I have said from the beginning, however, that the rationale behind the cultural master plan is to establish what we need moving forward as a city and, prior to it being released, I’m not comfortable about any decisions about specific things.”
Coun. Kevin Flynn shared this position, stressing the cultural master plan is being created through a community driven process.
“I want the community to tell me what’s missing and what’s the priority,” said Flynn.
Mayor Alan Harrison asked Jacobson if he’d spoken to the school district about including some kind of performing arts facility with a future downtown school. Jacobson said the 18,000-square-foot facility envisioned would be built specifically for the city, as opposed to being pared with the school.
Wallace-Richmond also cautioned that COVID-19 would impact government funding opportunities and restrict the size of gatherings for the foreseeable future.