The City of Colwood is set to earmark $30,000 in its upcoming draft budget to advance the concept of a performing arts centre in the community.
At a February meeting council endorsed the spending and acknowledged in principle that should a facility be built, the city would phase in annual funding contributions for operations.
“We don’t believe this is a cost-neutral proposition, just the same way West Shore Parks and Recreation is not a cost-neutral operation,” Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said. The funding is to help determine whether the findings from a 2013 development study are still accurate, he added. “It’s also to see if there is an actual need for an arts centre out in the West Shore. We presume there is … but it is really important we do it properly.”
The project remains in its infancy, Martin said, and such details as scale, location or even ownership of such a facility won’t be considered in detail until the study has been updated and shared with council. Discussions up to this point have been based on the assumption that project proponent, the Juan de Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society, would operate, but not necessarily own the facility.
The society has been pursuing partners to make an arts centre in Colwood a reality since producing the study in 2013 and last fall made a renewed pitch to council.
“We have worked incredibly hard to bring the project to a point where it can move forward quickly, but we need support from the city and soon, because we’re seeing opportunities slip,” society president Judith Cullington told council at their Oct. 25 meeting. “The community wants this, the community needs this, but we cannot take it further forward without you.”
More recently, Martin said he is highly supportive of bringing a performing arts facility to Colwood, noting the community would greatly benefit from it and it would further diversify the city’s amenities.
Once the development study has been updated, discussions and planning will occur to determine next steps.
The Capital Regional District has been discussing the need for an arts facility on the West Shore, Martin said, and the City of Langford has for several years talked about building its own facility.
While Langford is proposing a much larger venue than what could be built in Colwood – one more focused on hosting high-end performances rather than community groups – Martin said there is the opportunity for collaboration on that project, if the revised study determines it would best suit the needs of the community.