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Nelson arts groups ask for more city funding

Nelson and District Arts Council, organizers of ArtWalk, were among four local arts organizations hoping to see a funding increase in the next municipal budget. - Sam Van Schie photo
Nelson and District Arts Council, organizers of ArtWalk, were among four local arts organizations hoping to see a funding increase in the next municipal budget.
— image credit: Sam Van Schie photo

As Nelson council reviews the 2014 municipal budget, several local arts organizations are hoping to see increases to their city funding to cover rising costs and the expanding scope of their work.

At a meeting Monday, the cultural development committee, Touchstones Nelson, the Capitol Theatre and the Nelson and District Arts Council provided their annual update to council and made their case for more funding.

Council is now in budget deliberations and the draft budget will be presented to the public at a budget open house at the Nelson Public Library on February 27.

 

CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

The cultural development committee is an city-run committee responsible for advising council on how to develop its cultural sector.

It's responsible for managing public art, supporting local festivals, appointing the city's cultural ambassador, and developing policy around the development of culture.

Recently, it also took on the role of promoting heritage with the help of a new heritage working group.

The committee has one staff person — cultural development officer Joy Barrett — who is on contract to work about 13 hours per week. The committee is asking for an additional $10,000 to add five more hours per week to her contract.

Committee member Jocelyn Caver explained that the number of projects and partnerships that Barrett manages is ever expanding and, particularly now that heritage had become the group's responsibilities, they don't want her spread too thin.

The total budget request from the cultural development committee is $47,000.

 

TOUCHSTONES NELSON

Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and Heritage is seeking a two per cent funding increase (about $3,500) to go towards its growing fixed costs like utilities, maintenance contracts and taxes.

Executive director Leah Best explained that energy saving upgrades made at the facility — including changing incandescent light bulbs for LED and installing a new HVAC system — didn't lead to lower bills, and contractor fees and taxes keep increasing.

However, the Vernon Street museum is also earning more revenue. It saw a 28 per cent increase in admissions in 2013, largely due to a good tourist season. Membership, gift shop and program revenues have all either remained stable or increased in the past year.

In the coming year, Best said there's plans to increase facility rentals and offer an new "adopt an artifact" fundraising program.

The total amount Touchstones Nelson is requesting from the city is $217,808.

 

CAPITOL THEATRE

The Capitol Theatre, a 426-seat performance space on Victoria Street, is asking for an additional $5,000 from the city to go towards increases in operating costs, staff salaries and a reserve fund for building maintenance.

Each year the theatre hosts a presentation series that brings in eight to 12 professional touring groups from a range of disciplines, including dance, theatre, comedy and music. It also runs the summer youth theatre program, the Christmas Pantomime, the Capitol Kids Series and a costume shop.

And its a popular rental facility — in 2012/2013, the Capitol's 25th Anniversary season, there were 120 performances in the theatre and nearly 30,000 tickets sold.

Audience sizes for both its presentation series and the kids series are increasing and in turn bringing in more revenue for the theatre. Fundraising efforts have also increased under the leadership of executive director Stephanie Fischer.

The total amount the Capitol Theatre hopes to receive from the city this year is $60,000.

 

ARTS COUNCIL

The Nelson and District Arts Council is the annual organizer of ArtWalk, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last summer.

Typically the Arts Council requests $2,000 from the city to support ArtWalk, a summer arts showcase that involves numerous venues hosting public art openings in a single night. Last year, for its anniversary, the arts council doubled the size of ArtWalk — with two opening nights and twice as many artists.

This summer the Arts Council plans to divide up the openings over multiple nights throughout the summer, which would make it easier for attendees to get through every venue open that night.

To achieve this, the council is seeking a $500 increase from its base funding amount, for a total of $2,500.

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