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Touchstones, Capitol seek inflation-inspired increases to municipal allotments

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
January 27th, 2019

The city’s museum will be seeking an “accumulated” inflationary bump in operating funding from the city as Touchstones made its annual pitch to city council.

Touchstones Nelson has not had an increase in the funding it receives from the city since 2015, but the static funding sum is causing a detrimental effect to the facility, said Touchstones executive director Astrid Heyerdahl.

The museum has asked for a sum of $241,400 from the city for 2019, an eight per cent increase over what it was given in 2018.

“It seems like a very large increase from $223,000,” Heyerdahl noted, “but we are sitting at 2015 levels right now.

“If we were to have received the two per cent inflation increase each year, we would request $241,400 in 2019.”

She said the request was really about the fact that “we continue to grow, but when we don’t receive that inflationary increase its really a decrease” due to the rising cost of everything else the museum has to contend with.

Each year Touchstones requests an operating grant from the City of Nelson in order to support the facility maintenance and partial funds for salaries.

“All other funds to operate the museum are gathered from other grants, and earned and contributed revenue,” said Heyerdahl.

She also hinted at setting up a service agreement with the City of Nelson. In other communities the majority of organizations like Touchstones — archives, museums and public art galleries — are either run by the municipality, or have clear five to 10-year service agreements with their municipalities, said Heyerdahl.

“A service agreement, recognizing the invaluable service we provide, allows for greater sustainability, responsible growth and relevancy to our community,” she said in her presentation.

There are five Touchstones projects in the works for 2019, including renovations on The Bunker, a third floor renovation, public art, museum exhibition and community impact.

Capitol Theatre looks for capital

The city’s top performing arts venue has put the request on the board for a four per cent increase to the amount of money it annually receives from the City of Nelson.

The Capitol Theatre has requested an increase of four per cent ($2,700) to its current funding ($67,500) for an annual total city operating funding contribution of $70,200 to offset the cost of inflation.

City funding is “essential to accessing provincial and federal operating funding, said Capitol board of directors’ member Susan Kurtz.

She noted that the theatre has again delivered on the dollars it has been given.

Over 27,500 tickets were sold in the last year, with the theatre near capacity at 220 days booked (89 per cent capacity) for 135 performances and five performance weeks.

For its part the theatre is keeping costs as low as possible, said Kurtz.

“However we have no control over some of the increases,” she said, adding that the increase would also be going to staff wages, giving raises to keep good people.

Facility improvements have been ongoing since 2017, said executive director Stephanie Fischer, including a new website and city fibre connection to the stage and orchestra pit renovations.

There have also been technical equipment upgrades, new dressing room and green room flooring installed, with exit doors put in on Victoria Street and the lane way.

An HVAC unit has been installed in the Annex and windows have been replaced as well as theatre hall flooring.

In 2019 the show will continue to go on, said Fischer.

“We’ll continue to present shows, events and screenings, and continue our community outreach, programming, productions, special projects and events, advocacy and indigenous engagement,” she said.

“And, we’ll continue to upgrade this important cultural cornerstone facility.”

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