While a financial crisis has subsided at the Shatford Centre and Okanagan School of the Arts, the nonprofit still needs the public’s support if the nearly century-old building will remain a fixture at the entrance of Penticton’s downtown.
Back in March, the OSA was before city council pleading for its life, receiving a $47,000 emergency grant to prevent the closure of the building.
OSA Board president Keith MacIntyre says the funds have allowed them to stabilize and hire much-needed full time staff. New security cameras have also helped stamp out drug use and dealing on the Shatford’s lawn and across the street.
Three tenants upstairs — MacIntyre's own Big Bear Software, NetDNA.io and XCo Tech — have also provided the centre with some needed consistent cash flow.
“Lots of really, really great positive momentum happening,” MacIntyre said.
While they appear poised to meet this year’s financial projection, MacIntyre says they “are not out of the woods yet.” More support from the community is needed, both in the form of memberships and as a space to host events.
“Ten years ago the community stood up and said they wanted this building to survive,” he said, referring to a wide outcry when the Okanagan Skaha School Board announced plans to knock down the building as a part of the Penticton Secondary School replacement project.
A deal to save the Shatford was hatched, which sees the OSA lease the building from the School District for one dollar a year, but be responsible for all upkeep and maintenance. The nonprofit says it has poured $1.7M into the building since 2005, and will need to invest another $500,000 over the next few years.
“We do really need the community to show that they still want this building. It’s a lot of work, it’s an old building, utilities cost a lot of money,” MacIntyre said. “It’s just a fabulous amount of history that I don’t want to see lost.”
The OSA is planning on a capital fundraising drive next year and is also encouraging the community to show support by becoming a member. The group will also be applying for a wide variety of grants. OSA memberships cost just $25 per year. MacIntyre says they will be able to offer more benefits to their members as more people sign up.