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Arts Council looks to re-establish floating amphitheatre on Nelson’s Lakeside waters

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
January 24th, 2016

The city could have a new floating performance stage on its historical waterfront site at Lakeside Park if the region’s arts council has its way.

During the last council meeting, the Nelson and District Arts Council (NDAC) revealed a tentative desire for a Lakeside Park Amphitheatre Project, as community groups appeared before council with budgets, cash requests and future plans in hand.

NDAC executive director Neil Harrower said, in collaboration with local groups, agencies, governments and service organizations, the council wanted to begin a reexamination of the possibility of a Lakeside Park venue.

Since the council is currently 87-per-cent reliant on funding from governments, they were looking at increasing earned revenue through performance ticket sales and stewardship of the proposed resurrected venue.

“There is existing infrastructure still visible at the Lakeside Park Amphitheatre location,” he told council, that existed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

This includes a landscaped seating area, pilings driven into the lake to support a performance platform and washrooms and concession already on site.

“Through the creation of a business plan and feasibility study over the coming two years we are hopeful that through collaboration and partnership this project will move forward,” he said.

Harrower said the community would benefit with the creation of a much needed performance venue for outdoor theatre performances in summer, and increased activity in Lakeside Park. The project also appeals to increased tourism and the resurrection of a Nelson landmark, he added.

In 2014 NDAC received over $51,000 in total revenue to operate. Harrower had asked city council for $5,000 to add to the NDAC budget for 2016.

NDAC is a registered non-profit organization that was formed in 1969 as the Kootenay Columbia Arts Council. The regional area of NDAC spans from South Slocan to the North Shore, Procter and Queens Bay; and from Nelson to Apex. NDAC includes all communities within these boundaries.

The council has both individual and group members that draw from the greater cultural community throughout its area. Groups and individuals represent genres including music, theatre, dance, film, and the visual and literary arts, including festival promoters and heritage organizations.

Capitol Theatre

The city’s performing arts theatre saw a little bit of financial life last year.

The Capitol Theatre saw a slight profit last year with a net revenue of $2,822 — due to an increase in rental revenue — despite revenue decreasing by approximately $30,000 in comparison to 2013/2014 due to the completion of the Capitol Theatre Improvement Project.

Fundraising and performance revenue were down — with ArtsVest matching funds not available in 2014/15. An increase in number of performances did not match an increase in audience numbers.

The theatre society did manage to reduce accumulated deficit from $9,742 to $4,108.

The Capitol Theatre budget request was for an increase of two per cent ($1,350) to offset increases in utilities and building maintenance costs, for a total city funding support of  $68,850.

Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History

The city’s museum and art gallery will likely suffer a significant drop in revenue in 2016, forecasted by a report from the facility’s executive director.

Leah Best said the Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History will only realize a forecast of $409,000 in revenue in 2016, due to a drop in grants and earned revenue.

That is down from the $442,776 Touchstones took in for 2015.
She asked the city for a $225,000 contribution to the budget, up from the $223,000 it gave last year.

Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce

The chamber finally moved into its new location in the refurbished CP Rail Station but it suffered in the interim as the number of visitors dropped significantly in 2015.

Chamber executive director Tom Thomson asked the city for the same amount of money it had been receiving since 2007, at $76,000.

He noted that the chamber went out with a whimper at its former Hall Street location, with construction on the road inhibiting walk-in visitors. The number of visitor “parties” were down 12 per cent while the number of visitors was down 16 per cent for the year.

“The majority, if not all, of the loss was through the construction period,” Thomson said.

Last year the chamber received $76,000 from the city to operate the Nelson Visitor Centre on a fee-for-service contract, the same amount it has received for nine years.

But the chamber lost over $14,000 running the centre last year, Thomson said. In 2014 the chamber lost almost $20,000 in running the centre.

“The 2016 expenses are not finalized, but are projected to be higher,” he said, noting the move to the new CP Rail Station would affect the figures.

Thomson asked city council for the opportunity to sit down with the financial department and work out some “mitigation” on several of the costs the chamber would incur in their new building.

Thomson noted the revitalized heritage CP Rail Station — the Regional Visitor Gateway Opportunity Centre — was the biggest restoration project of a single building undertaken by a non-government agency.

The station now becomes a “comprehensive community and regional tourism and business information centre.”

Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership

Tom Thomson and Colin McClure presented the 2016 budget for the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership.

Last year saw a virtual building boom in the downtown core, as Nelson Commons broke ground with the new Kootenay Co-op store and a multi-unit residential complex, while the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce completed work on the heritage CP Station at the west end of Baker Street, said Thomson.

“This, coupled with the Stores to Shores project, plus developments like Nelson Landing and the Crossing at Granite Pointe, made 2015 one of the best years in recent history for building,” McClure said.

Last year the city contributed $100,000 to the partnership, with other funding bodies — like the RDCK — contributing over $55,000. The Partnership asked for the same amount from the city in 2016.

Strategic priorities of the Partnership include supporting business retention and expansion through research, driving technology adoption and becoming an “intelligent” community.

Cultural Development Committee

The city’s cultural development officer, Joy Barrett, presented the 2016 budget request for council’s Cultural Development Committee, asking for a total of $41,150 — a 2.8 per cent increase.

In addition, the Heritage Working Group had a budget request of $8,500 from the city.

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