FEATURED COMMENT – We already have enough theatres in Kamloops

Why do we keep going back to this PAC idea? They are expensive to build, expensive to operate and expensive to maintain and repair. Local artists and arts groups are unable to afford to either rehearse or perform in them, and they suck entertainment dollars out of the community.

Sagebrush Theatre. (Image: City of Kamloops)

We already have the Sagebrush and The Sandman Centre. If Westerm Canada Theatre wanted its own, purpose built facility, which they would own and operate I could get behind that, but not another bank of city owned plush seats in a public building with beige carpets and self flushing toilets.

In addition to The Sagebrush, we also have The Pavilion, the 700 seat gem up at The Coast Hotel and the extraordinarily beautiful restored Rex on Seymour Street. Every High School in the city has some sort of small performance space – probably the best shows in the city happen annually with the students at Westsyde in their lovely little black box.

TRU has a beautiful black box theatre. The only thing that the city is missing missing is a 150 seat, flexible black box theatre to complement the funky, but warm and welcoming Stage House on Tranquille.

Kamloops is not really short of performance spaces – I know that because I’m a professional theatre artist who makes his home in the city. I just did a performance of my show, Spitting Slag in the lovely hall of the downtown United Church. The facility was lovely and the church staff and members were gracious hosts.

Please, let’s put this PAC idea to bed for another 50 years and invest scarce public dollars in something more useful. Honestly, not having a PAC won’t make a bit of difference in the lives of the artists who call Kamloops home.

Artistic Director,
The Other Theatre Company, Kamloops

About Mel Rothenburger (9036 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

13 Comments on FEATURED COMMENT – We already have enough theatres in Kamloops

  1. Wendy Weseen // October 8, 2018 at 12:08 AM // Reply

    Correct me if I’m wrong. But it seems to me that people who are against the arts or who view the arts as nonessential to a community also think that the so called artistic community made up of artists and appreciaters alike are somehow freeloaders. As if they never contribute volunteer (including fund raising hours) hours and hours and hours to provide their community something enriching that fosters mental health, creativity and commerce for the whole community. As if they don’t donate generously and with commitment to their city. ALREADY.

  2. Until the “Arts ” community is ready to fund, operate, and maintain a PAC all on their own, then I say no. The taxpayers in Kamloops are being gouged from enough directions by the city already, and it needs to stop.

  3. David Johnson // October 6, 2018 at 12:57 PM // Reply

    This opinion piece ranges from factually incorrect, to a complete misunderstanding of the range of performance arts that happen in town … or that do NOT come to town … because of the lack of the appropriate performance space, and then rounds out with a narrow view on a PAC future.

    First the factually incorrect; The “700 seat gem up at The Coast Hotel”, actually seats slightly more than 400, in their crammed in format. I perform there every year … I only wish we could get 700 in there.

    My expertise regarding these issues is limited to personally performing with various music groups, and I have performed and rehearsed on pretty much almost every stage in town, including all of our larger and smaller churches that allow community groups, the Sagebrush, and the Pavillion. I have not performed in the Stage House or The Rex.
    I provide this as awareness that I have personally experienced the limitations with what there is.

    Saying that Western Canada Theatre should build their own room, suggests that they are the only users of a proper stage. A few facts unknown outside of the arts crowd; There is a continuous stream of touring plays (and musical acts, from country to pop to classical) that do not stop in Kamloops, because we do not have a proper stage with the back stage design to allow for proper staging, or the appropriate sound system or ambient sound for music.

    The other reason they dont stop here is that we do not have a room with the appropriate seating count to make it financially feasible to stop here. If they cant stage it or sell the tickets to pay for it … they dont stop.

    Yes, we have lots of much smaller venues like suggested, but that’s not the problem. Yes, we have an ice rink for larger acts, be it a big music act or Cirque du Soleil, that will sell thousands of tickets, but nothing in between.

    The Sagebrush is sorely lacking for this need, and always has. Backstage design does not allow for larger live theatre tours … and it is completely inappropriate for our Symphony; the sound is horrible, and there is barely enough stage for the players and a chorus performing big classical pieces or more contemporary presentations.

    Lets remember that the Kamloops Symphony is becoming renown as one of the better regional Symphonies in the country, and yet we have them at the Sagebrush, which in the end is an old school designed, High School auditorium … full stop.

    The time to build a new PAC is definitely upon us, but there are ways to do this, and ways to not get it done; The last design voted on, was a horribly concocted idea that was going to raise property taxes because it was going to be built with City dollars, a no-go for many people.

    Many have read about the idea to drop a PAC on the Henry Grube site. A ridiculous idea; its a flood plain, add many dollars to seal it up for the eventual flood, and it will be a ghost town spot when a show is not going on, and attendees will need to go ( and re-park) downtown for dinners, coffees ect … which in reality means they will just go home to eat, which means no increased business for anyone. This is such a non-starter its actually funny to suggest it.

    Face it … 4th and Seymour is the spot … it is the only spot, and it is a gift (albeit an expensive one in the end) of a spot for a PAC, we just need the will to get it done … but how???

    What needs to happen is what they did in Nanaimo; A grass roots society raised money and applied for and got Provincial and Federal dollars, that are not available to Municipalities to apply for. The Port Theatre was build with zero City dollars, but on City land and once the building was finished, ownership of the building transferred to the City (for snow clearing and other easier to manage utility needs) and the operation of the building stayed with the society.

    It is used 300 days a year, with 60% community based usage.

    Usage costs to local groups was kept low, touring acts had somewhere to go, and financially it runs annually at break even or a small profit which was banked for future retrofits and capital upgrades … which happened. Zero tax increases for the City to dole out to taxpayers.

    Yet … we in Kamloops seem to continuously revolve around the ‘do we need it’ conversation like in this opinion piece. People who are not knowledgeable … are preaching to tax payers who dont want to pay, nothing is resolved … and around and around we go.

    When will this end.

    • Wendy Weseen // October 6, 2018 at 1:11 PM // Reply

      Bravo. The thing that ticks me off is there’s never a question about sports activities being important enough to invest in. But when it comes to the arts it is considered inferior. In actual fact and I think this is a fact, cultural and artistic activities in the community have more financial spinoffs than sport it’s not what we expect that’s why it is not embraced as a truth . If I am wrong I will apologize.

    • Perhaps a good replay to a good letter…Nanaimo…who new?

  4. Jennie Stadnichuk // October 6, 2018 at 12:08 PM // Reply

    Yes, the article is well written, and incredible honest and sensible! Unfortunately the comment of W. Weseen comes from a member of the Yes to PAC who refuse to accept that the majority of Kamloops voters said NO to that ridiculous spending Referendum!

    • Wendy Weseen // October 6, 2018 at 1:01 PM // Reply

      That’s because I’ve been a world traveler, who has seen a much broader reality of possibilities than we experience in Kamloops (fairly conservative with a small c), and which often lacks the expansive and innovative view.

  5. I say art as little to do with a venue and the economic case to potentially justify it is solely an opinion.

  6. Is this the most sensible write-up about the PAC issue to date?

  7. Wendy Weseen // October 6, 2018 at 6:41 AM // Reply

    This opinion is so lacking in open minded exploration of the role art has in our lives, factual examination of financial impacts, an honest look at acoustics, and the ability of current facilities mentioned to host national and international performance, the inclusion of visual art needs, the acknowledgement of how incredibly important creativity is to our heart, soul and well being. To say nothing of its educational and historical value.

    I have to say that often these opinions are shallow and conventional.

    • Here here, Wendy.

    • So you think that the taxpayer is a bottomless pit of money then ? When the arts community raises the money to build, maintain, and cover future costs, then I would be all for the city donating some land for it. Until then….NO !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: