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New life for former Penmar Theatre

Community members, city officials and those behind an effort to transform the former Penmar Theatre in Penticton were on hand Wednesday for an important announcement.

The latest news for the old building on Martin Street is Valley First has partnered with the Penmar Community Arts Society to transform it into a three auditorium theatre where the society will present movie screenings and live performance events.

"Anyone who knows Penticton knows the Penmar," said Valley First President Paulette Rennie. "We are thrilled to partner with the Penmar Society to bring new life to this slice of our city's history. The revamped and revitalized facility stands to be a truly impressive entertainment venue."

Jennifer Vincent of the society expressed enthusiasm about the project and what it means for Penticton.

"Revamping the Penmar is a fantastic project," she said. "And it's terrific for us to have a truly community-focused partner in Valley FIrst. Our goal is to create a community space which serves the whole South Okanagan and brings more cultural diversity to our community."

The first phase of  redevelopment of the theatre, which has been around since 1956, will see the amalgamation of two of the existing larger auditoriums into a single 350 seat theatre, as well as construction of the performance stage, improvements to the front facade and an upgrade to the lobby area.

The first phase of expansion will include the side stage and green room areas.

Future phases will expand the main theatre floor seating to at least 450, develop a mezzanine area and complete the northern expansion to include new washrooms, office and commercial space.

The end result say those involved will be a facility that is suitable for movies, live music,  live theatre, speaker series and community events.

The theatre is considered to be an addition to the city's entertainment district plan.

The society continues to seek sponsorships and volunteers for the theatre project.

"Valley First is the first to step up to the plate, and I'm ecstatic," said society president Jim Morrison. "This project has become a life of its own, and we would love to see community members step forward to volunteer and become members."

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