For more than a decade, West Shore communities have identified the need for a performing arts space for both amateur and professional performances.
In fact, research by the West Shore Chamber of Commerce in 2011 revealed that more than 90 per cent of our residents want more access to theatre, musicals and performance art. So what kind of progress has been made?
Numerous dedicated community members have endeavoured to make this vision a reality. Over the past 12 years, these efforts have been spearheaded by committees from both the West Shore Arts Council and West Shore Chamber of Commerce, by an informal group, and more recently, by a non-statutory committee of the City of Colwood.
In 2012, Colwood hired Schick Shiner Associates, a design firm specializing in theatre, to produce a design that would embody the needs of the community. The last open house held in Langford in 2014 also revealed the public demand for a theatre, followed by a call for expression of interest from arts organizations and interested parties by the City of Langford.In December, the Juan de Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society was formed to take the lead on this project.
“The Arts Council will partner and support the newly formed society in moving forward on this issue,” said West Shore Arts Council president, Laura Davis.
“The Arts Council, Chamber of Commerce and the City of Colwood have supported us strongly over the years,” said David Stocks, the new society’s president. “However, we thought it best to form a separate entity. The (society) has a single, focused purpose: ‘to plan, promote, develop, construct and operate a performing arts facility that will accommodate a comprehensive range of cultural and community experiences.”
Engaging with landowners and managers on potential sites, the society aims to connect with experienced professionals to develop a detailed business plan for the centre, and to refine the 2012 architectural concepts.
“Our greatest need is to hire credible experts in theatre operations and theatre design to add more detail to the high-level plans in the SSA report,” Stocks explained. “We hope that community members will encourage their local governments to provide some level of funding. With local government support in hand, we will approach the provincial government and other sources of funds to move the project forward.”
On Sunday, Feb. 28, the West Shore Arts Council and Juan De Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society will co-host a discussion forum to bring the arts and cultural community of the West Shore together. The forum will unite varying arts organizations – visual artists, actors, musicians, dancers, educators and other performers – in an effort to bring the combined needs of each group to light.
The forum will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Langford Legion, 761 Station Ave. All are welcome to attend.
Kristi Hoffman represents the West Shore Arts Council. For more on the council’s activities, visit westshorearts.org.