The head of the arts group that manages the Nanaimo Centre Stage community theatre is pleased the city is proceeding with partial renovations at 25 Victoria Rd.
But Camela Tang, president of Centre for the Arts Nanaimo, also expressed anger at councillors and members of the public who have spoken out against the use of the funds. The city has known since it purchased the building in 2008 that it would require repairs to the outside of the building, she said.
On Monday, council approved a $34,700-budget increase as a contingency to the $160,000 for renovation work to portions of the theatre's exterior. The project was approved by council in March as a stop-gap measure to allow arts groups to continue
using the facility, while at the same time addressing safety concerns such as loose stucco cladding and brick veneer. Back then, councillors Jim Kipp, Bill McKay and Bill Bestwick voted to delay awarding funds to the project until more consultation work had taken place.
On Monday, Bestwick voted with Diane Brennan, Diana Johnstone, Fred Pattje, Ted Greves and George Anderson to increase the project budget.
Kipp remained opposed to the measure and McKay and Mayor John Ruttan were absent.
The city releases its cultural plan Nov. 7, alongside an arts and culture economic impact study prepared by the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation. Council has yet to decide if it will continue to own and license the building as an arts venue, or whether to complete full renovation work on the building in the future, which staff say would cost slightly more than $800,000.
The cultural plan is expected to lay out a roadmap for cultivating arts in the city, including a capital-asset priority plan recommendations for small performance spaces, said Bob Kuhn, manager of recreational and cultural services.
However, Kuhn said the plan does not so far make specific mention of 25 Victoria Rd. due to the ongoing political discussions surrounding the theatre.
The Nanaimo Ratepayers' Association's says costs for the theatre could balloon in the future. But Tang said the claims are "outlandish" and added the 30 arts groups that use the theatre would be "devastated" if the facility is not marked as a priority. Building a new small arts theatre is not realistic in the short term, "because we do not have the resources," she said.
"We do not have the political will to do that," she added.
"Has anybody thought, 'well if you shut that door, what will you do the 30-plus artists who use this space?' What happens to them?" SAnderson@nanaimodailynews.com 250-729-4255 " We want to hear from you.
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