Sydney Black (left) and Astrid Heyerdahl presented a budget request to council on behalf of the the city’s Heritage Working Group on Monday. Last year, the grants to the five organizations discussed in this article amounted to about one-half percent of the city’s total taxation. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Groups pitch 2018 budgets to council

Visitor Centre asks for first increase in ten years

Four non-profit organizations and one city council committee made their annual budget requests to Nelson council on Monday night. They all receive annual funding from the city.

Chamber of Commerce Visitor Centre

Tom Thomson and Val Yowek of the Chamber of Commerce asked council for at least an inflationary increase of three per cent, and/or an opportunity to sit down with council and strategize how to better fund the visitor centre.

For each of the past ten years the visitor centre has received $76,000 with no increases.

Yowek and Thomson said the visitor centre ran at a loss in 2017, with income of $125,234 and expenses of $151,699, with the shortfall subsidized by the Chamber of Commerce.

Visitor numbers were down in 2017 — 16,616 compared with 23,258 in 2016 — because of the wildfires last summer. Thomson said the centre’s primary expenses are 2.5 full time staff wages and benefits, three seasonal counsellors, municipal taxes, utilities, building and property maintenance, and marketing.

Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History

Astrid Heyerdahl, executive director of Touchstones, asked council for a grant of $227,460, a two per cent increase over last year’s funding. The city provided about 45 per cent of the organization’s funding last year.

She said the increase is intended to give her six staff extended health benefits, and increase three of them to “a Nelson living wage.”

Heyerdahl cited a significant increase in the number and types of exhibits and events at Touchstones in the past year, along with a list of priorities in 2018 that include a second Museum Mash, the launch of the “Diefenbunker” as an exhibition and programming space, a Heritage Walking Tour app, truth and reconciliation activities, increased school programming including an indigenous worldview program, and a variety of exhibits including a history of local mountain biking.

Nelson and District Arts Council

Sydney Black, executive director of the non-profit arts council, asked city council for $5,000, a 100 per cent increase from last year’s $2,500, which amounted to three per cent of the organization’s income.

Black said in the past year the Arts Council produced Artwalk, the Nelson Dance Educator’s Showcase, a rural artists symposium, the Bigby Place arts initiative, the Hidden Creek Artist Retreat, and the Richard Carver Award, along with administering the arts grants given by the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance.

Next year will see more of the same, she said, along with the inaugural Nelson International Mural Festival and a newly formed Nelson Youth Arts Action initiative.

Capitol Theatre

Stephanie Fischer, the Capitol Theatre’s executive director, asked council for $70,200, up four per cent from last year’s grant which amounted to 14 per cent of the theatre’s income in 2017.

Fischer reported that the theatre sold 26,242 tickets to 114 performances in 2017, featuring national, international and local performers in theatre, dance, music, and film, including the summer youth theatre intensive which drew 1950 audience members to performances by 33 youth.

Fischer said the theatre has plans this year for facility improvements including HVAC in the annex, stage and technical improvements, dressing room flooring, and exit door improvements.

She said 2018 will be the 30th anniversary of the theatre operating in the 90 year old building and that a celebratory evening will be held at the theatre on March 10.

Cultural Development Committee

The CDC, which is a committee of city council, asked council for $40,900, up 2.25 per cent from last year. The city is the committee’s only funder.

Cultural development officer Joy Barrett and committee chair Sydney Black said the increase was needed to add 30 hours to Barrett’s contract to give her time to consult with Public Works about infrastructure projects.

Barrett and Black listed the committee’s 2017 accomplishments as the Art Rental Program, the ongoing presentation of sculptures in downtown, the annual heritage and cultural ambassador awards, and the Economusée program.

They said the group will continue with all of these things plus working with the City of Nelson on street art and infrastructure projects including Cottonwood Park, Railtown, and Hall Street.

The Heritage Working Group, an offshoot of the CDC, requested $6000 like last year.

The budget requests from all of these organizations will be included in council’s current overall budget discussions. Last year’s grants amounted to about one-half per cent of the city’s total taxation.