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Arts hub announced at City of Powell River meeting

Pacific Region International Summer Music Association wants to move into 5,000 square foot space in Townsite Market
Pacific Region International Summer Music Association artistic director Arthur Arnold appeared before City of Powell River councillors on April 16 to outline plans to turn a 5,000 square foot space in Townsite Market into an arts hub.

Pacific Region International Summer Music Association (PRISMA) is looking for a new home through the creation of an arts hub in Townsite.

Arthur Arnold, artistic director of PRISMA, said the organization started in a basement and graduated to space in Town Centre Mall, which was donated to the association. Due to recent renovations at the mall, PRISMA was asked to find another place.

“We have looked at different options,” said Arnold. “I went to Steve Brooks and asked what he had in Townsite, and he had one space to show. He brought me into a 5,000-square-foot space and it was an aha moment for me.

“This would be a space where many arts organizations could benefit. Many start in basements, but this allows us to make it possible to share resources.”

Arnold said what is being proposed is a multidisciplinary centre for the arts – an arts and culture hub to be located on the upper floor of the Townsite Market building.

“We entered into a 10-year lease agreement for this space,” said Arnold. “We took funders into the space and they all said ‘wow.’ That helps with our grand project.

“The project will assure cross-pollination between arts organizations and it will allow for equipment sharing. We believe that together as arts organizations, we are stronger and we should not work in silos in this beautiful, artsy town, where the arts are so important.”

Arnold said design would accommodate features such as moveable walls so small groups can function there, as well as big groups. He said the space could house a symphony orchestra.

There would be offices and boardrooms, rehearsal rooms and teaching studios. Arnold said the space would be climate-controlled for instrument storage. There will be soundproofing so the different arts user groups will not be disturbed. There will be a capacity of up to 249 people if any events are hosted there.

Arnold said the space will allow arts organizations to support each other. Organizations for younger people could be supported, as well as smaller arts organizations, he added.

“We can sit together, brainstorm and see how we can be more successful in our beautiful region,” said Arnold. “This space offers opportunities for cool events. Usually, when we are in Evergreen Theatre, it is an orchestra setting and a traditional setting. We will always have the heart of PRISMA at the Evergreen Theatre. That is where we operate our festival. We don’t want to go.

“The arts hub, however, will draw tourism and people will want to come to Townsite to experience what’s going on. The PRISMA arts and culture hub aligns with community aspirations and economic development strategies. It’s in line with Tla’amin Nation priorities.”

Arnold said eight partners from within the community are currently involved in the project.

In terms of budget, it will cost $794,000 to make the leasehold improvements. He said to date, $450,000 has been raised. There is another grant application for $250,000. A grant application has been submitted to Powell River Community Forest for $94,446, and the $450,000 grant will only be allocated if the full amount for the leasehold improvements is found, according to Arnold.

“We are confident that we will raise it, but we are dependent on the community forest grant,” said Arnold. “This will be great for the economy of Townsite, for the overall artistic community, and it will help smaller groups in the community. I hope you will support our project.”

Mayor Ron Woznow said he had the privilege of seeing the Townsite Market facility when it was a dream, and he was pleased that it had been taken from a dream to the point where there are great plans. Woznow asked if there had been funding applications both federally and provincially. Arnold said that was correct.

Councillor Earl Almeida said he would follow up with Arnold about prospective funding options through the Island Coastal Economic Trust, where they have cultural categories in the funding mechanism.

“There’s a chance that PRISMA might be able to apply under that category,” said Almeida, “to meet some of your funding needs.”

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