PAC Dream Still Alive
Prince George, B.C. – The dream of having performing arts centre in Prince George is alive and well.
Enthusiasm for the idea hasn’t dampened despite the fact the idea was shot down in a referendum in Kamloops last weekend.
53.7% of residents there voted no to borrowing up to $49 million to turn the former Kamloops Daily News building into an arts centre.
“I think that these are two very different scenarios,” says Marnie Hamagami, chair of the Prince George Performing Arts Centre Society. “For one thing the scope of the project they were proposing down in Kamloops is very different from what we’re talking about here.”
She says the price tag for the Kamloops project was in the $90 million range while the cost for building one here is estimated to be around $51 million.
“So we are a much smaller project number one. We are not talking about a tax levy at this point,” says Hamagami. “The other major difference I see is that Kamloops is just that much closer to Vancouver so it’s easier to have access to some of the performances that happen.”
A performing arts centre is something the city has expressed an interest in in the past.
In fact in November 2013, Prince George city council voted unanimously in favour of declaring such a project an unfunded priority capital project.
Additionally, a market survey conducted by the city in March, 2014, found there is positive market demand to support an entertainment, arts and culture centre.
88% of respondents indicated they attended at least one live performance or sporting event in the last 12 months.
In 2014, former chair Les Waldie said the capital cost of the facility was planned to be a shared model with federal, provincial and local government support along with private and philanthropic sources.
Either way, Hamagami says a performing arts centre is something the city really needs as a way to attract and retain professionals.
“One of the questions my husband and I were talking about before moving to town was what were the amenities? We were excited to see that Prince George had a WHL team,” she says.
“We were happy to see there was a professional theatre in town. So the performances we would like to see would be more readily available to us with the addition of a performing arts centre.”