Fundraising for theatre on hold

By on November 9, 2017
Conceptual art of a movie theatre and performing arts centre the Nicola Valley Community Theatre Society wants to build in Merritt. (Herald file photo)

The Nicola Valley Community Theatre Society (NVCTS) is no longer actively fundraising as it attempts to figure out the status of their application to the province’s Rural Dividend Fund (RDF).

“I want an answer to the grant before we go to the community for any more money,” said NVCTS director Kurt Christopherson. “Merritt has contributed a lot towards this thing. I don’t want to ask people for anything more until there is a reasonable hope that the project will succeed.”

Through grants and fundraising efforts NVCTS has been attempting to have a performing arts and theatre facility built downtown at the corner of Coutlee Avenue and Garcia Street.

Last year, in partnership with the City of Merritt, NVCTS applied to the RDF under the special circumstances category for $3.7 million — the majority of the funds needed to make the $5 million project a reality.

The most recent list of RDF recipients released in October did not include the project, but society director Rich Hodson said that doesn’t necessarily mean the application was denied.

“It has not been dealt with yet and that’s what we’re pushing for,” said Christopherson.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the last kick at the can, but certainly there’s quite a bit riding on this application,” Hodson told the Herald.

Christopherson said if the application is denied NVCTS will have to change its plans for the project.

The RDF typically dolls out grants in $100,000 sums — $500,000 if the application is a joint venture, and possibly more under the special circumstances category.

Unsuccessful applications can be resubmitted for future intakes.

The fund was established in 2016 to provide up to $25 million per year to projects in B.C. communities with populations under $25,000. Local governments, not-for-profit organizations and First Nations are all eligible to apply for the funding.

There have been three intakes to date and the fourth opens November 15.

This third intake saw 90 recipients receive a combined $10.1 million. Five special circumstances grants were distributed from this intake to projects in wildfire-impacted areas. The B.C. government gave out a total of $758,000 in special circumstance grants, and none of the five recipients received more than $500,000.

NVCTS has received a $100,000 grant from the RDF in the past.

The proposed theatre facility would include a 250-seat performing arts centre and three 100-seat movie theatres.

The idea is that the movie theatres would act like any other business, but some funds from ticket sales would help support the non-profit performing arts theatre.

“The beauty of the theatre plan is to make the performing arts [centre] self-sustaining,” Christopherson told the Herald, noting that he thinks the town needs both facilities.

Hodson said NVCTS has accumulated about $810,000 in donations since starting the project, some of which has been spent on the first two phases of the project.

If the RDF funding were to be approved, NVCTS could begin securing tenders for construction, Hodson said.

“I think everything pretty much rides on this RDF application,” he said.

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