GVAC budget: push to begin in new year for funding of new Vernon cultural centre

Push for cultural funding

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee's cultural services budget includes $60,000 for continuation of "project fund development" for the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre.

And it will have a long way to go to reel in the additional $13.9 million needed to build the facility since it was first approved in 2018.

The new design for the much-delayed project was unveiled Dec. 1.

The centre will house the Vernon Museum and Vernon Public Art Gallery, along with a small theatre, and open amphitheatre.

The museum's archives will stay at the current site.

Regional District of North Okanagan directors will consider cultural spending during their budget meeting on Jan. 10.

Cultural spending in total is budgeted at $7,409,598, with an operating budget of $1,925,848, and capital budget of $5,483,750.

It would require a tax increase of 3.5%, or $60,220. Vernon would pay the largest share of that (67.2%) or $1,197,377.

The cultural centre has a total project cost of $41.9 million. It will be built on the site of the downtown Vernon parking lot on 31st Avenue.

Detailed design is expected by 2024-25, with construction to begin in 2025 and completion in 2027.

However, that's based on raising $13.9 by July 2024. Every month beyond that will add $167,000 to the projected cost.

A combination of senior government grants and a public fundraising campaign will be sought to reach that goal.

Meanwhile, a report to GVAC directors notes "most organizations" are seeking grant requests that exceed the proposed budget.

A new public art grant program has a budget of $150,000.

An additional $286,000 is proposed for annual building maintenance and programming reserves to "mitigate a much larger tax increase in the next few years" for the cultural centre.

Museum funding totals $417,939, up from $397,823 this year.

The Vernon Public Art Gallery budget ($327,350) is down by $350 despite a 3% increase to the annual operating grant due to the elimination of a one-time purchase two storage containers.

However, the gallery has requested an increase to the operating grant of $27,850 to offset labour and general operating expenses.

The Arts Council of the North Okanagan is seeking an increase beyond the 2% in its five-year operating and management agreement. It is requesting annual funding of $267,226, a $20,431 or 8.3% increase.

The increase is related to costs required to attract and retain staff due to inflationary pressures, with 40% related to a new part-time communication assistant position.

The Okanagan Science Centre is budgeted for $32,500, and the Allan Brooks Nature Centre $20,000 (both unchanged).

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