Build a new arts centre

A volunteer organization, known informally as "Friends of KPAC" has formed to support the creation of an exceptional new Performing Arts Centre in Kelowna’s downtown cultural district. The hope is to achieve this by 2026. They are working with Kelowna’s municipal government to advance a plan to replace the Kelowna Community Theatre with an iconic new Performing Arts Centre. They are also enlisting the performing arts community and other stakeholders to foster broad-based and sustained business and public support for the project. This apparently was the original plan. This group is affiliated with some very heavy hitters in the Kelowna arts community, namely people involved with Ballet Kelowna, Opera Kelowna and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. Their website is: kelownaperformingarts.ca.

At first it seemed that the City of Kelowna was going to be a partner in this endeavor until news of the upcoming 60th Anniversary seemed to imply that the KCT would be enjoying its new upgrades and renovations into its retirement years. I've been told that these upgrades are nothing more than improvements to an aging building. This puts the "Friends of KPAC" in a bit of a lurch. They don't want to be at odds with the City, but at the same time it seems they've been blindsided.

There is no doubt that the Kelowna Community Theatre has served its purpose. It has been home to locals like Ballet Kelowna, The Okanagan Symphony, Opera Kelowna and Robert Fine, and it has hosted the likes of Gord Downie and many other other celebrities over the years.

But the population of Kelowna has increased from about 13,000 to 153,000 in the last 60 years. That's an increase of almost 1,200%. It's time Kelowna got with it and supported a new performing arts centre. Doing meagre upgrades to an aging building isn't enough.

It seems to me the City of Kelowna wants to act like a big city with all the new high rises and such. Well, a new performing arts centre is something that would put Kelowna on the map. After all, if you travel to Vernon, they have a great venue. It only holds around 750 people but it is a much better venue than our community theatre.

It's time, Kelowna. It's time to build a new performing arts centre that will compliment our population, our local talent and will draw celebrities and talent from around the world.

Richard Knight, Kelowna

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