UPDATE: 4 p.m.
School District 67 board chair James Palanio has chimed in to explain the district's reasoning behind terminating the Okanagan School of the Arts' lease on the Shatford Centre.
"They brought us a proposal just recently that would have cost us operating dollars," Palanio said, saying that tough times financially for the district made that impossible.
"At the end of the day our focus has to be on the students."
Palanio said there are no plans to use the Shatford Centre for any other purposes or rent it out to other tenants at this time.
"Right now we're just going to close the doors."
With an uncertain future for the district's schools amid COVID-19 and a lot of question marks about what September will look like, Palanio said the future of the Shatford Centre is low on the list of things to deal with.
ORIGINAL: 3:30 p.m.
After ten years calling the Shatford Centre in Penticton home, the Okanagan School of the Arts has been told to be out by the end of the month.
According to a news release from the OSA, landlord School District 67 rejected a proposal to move forward in a partnership and declined to extend their lease.
"The terms of our lease were that we leased the building from the school district for $1 a year, but we covered all expenses, all utilities, which of course in a building this age and size is not inexpensive," said OSA executive director Kim Palmer, who explained that COVID-19 saw revenues from rentals and events drop to zero.
"So we were hoping to enter into a partnership agreement where the school district would help us with those expenses."
But the OSA says the response was "please vacate."
“We are now facing the enormous task of emptying the building in a very compressed timeframe,” Palmer said. “The Shatford is filled with valuable and specialized equipment, including pianos, commercial kitchen appliances, and a wide variety of art supplies. At the moment, we don’t know where it will go."
Board of directors chair Keith MacIntyre lamented that COVID-19 had axed their progress building a vibrant local arts community, but said the eviction came as a shock.
"With a moratorium on commercial and residential evictions in BC because of the pandemic, we did not expect this from SD67. An event space as spacious as the Shatford Centre is more valuable than ever to the citizens of Penticton in our current reality, and we were finalizing measures that would make the Shatford available for small event," MacIntyre said.
"We understand the challenges that SD67 is currently experiencing and it was our hope we could alleviate some of the pressure. Instead, we are scrambling to vacate a building we have occupied for nearly ten years - a building to which we’ve added almost $2 million in improvements.”
The OSA welcomes all offers of assistance during this crisis; in particular, donation of storage space will be greatly appreciated. New board members with a drive and a passion for the arts will also be welcomed, and anyone interested can reach out at [email protected]