Plans to build a home for the arts on the West Shore are slowly but surely underway as a local group works to establish an arts facility.
The Juan de Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society has been working on plans to build an arts facility in the West Shore over the past few years and is making small strides, according to the group’s president, Judith Cullington.
“It’s still on our Christmas wish list,” Cullington said. “It takes a long time, we’ve been through various stages.”
Cullington said the group is continuing to have conversations with West Shore municipalities about building the arts centre, and said the City of Colwood has also identified establishing an arts facility in its strategic plan.
The centre would have a performance hall, rehearsal space, gallery and educational spaces so both professional and amateur community members could make use of it.
Cullington said she believes that while it may not make a big profit, the facility needs to be largely self-supporting rather than being heavily dependent on municipal tax dollars.
Finding key partners and fundraising are a big part of establishing and maintaining the centre, Cullington said.
The Juan de Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society became a charity about three years ago in order to begin fundraising, collecting donations and to become eligible for funding opportunities.
“Our main goals are fundraising and making sure it’s a realistic business model that can be largely self-supporting,” Cullington said.
The society started a petition in the summer as a way to show municipalities that a centre like this is what community members want, and Cullington said many people have expressed that there is a need for an arts centre in the West Shore.
“We have some brilliant sports and recreational facilities in the West Shore,” Cullington said. “We need to match that with brilliant arts and cultural facilities and opportunities.”
The next step for the society is to find a two-acre site where the facility can be built. In May, the society had chosen four potential locations in Colwood and Langford, one of which is no longer an option according to Cullington. She said they need to find a site in order to kick fundraising into high gear.
“Then we can start to design a place that’s going to work with everybody’s needs,” Cullington said.
The benefit to having a facility like this in the West Shore, according to Cullington, is proximity to many community members.
“[People are] saying they want access to these services without having to go downtown,” Cullington said. “Often you come home from work and you don’t feel like hauling yourself all the way downtown.”
Cullington said facilities like this typically take 15 to 20 years to be established and that they are currently at the 12-year mark since planning began.
“We’re right on track,” Cullington said. “We’re starting to hear interest from municipalities, they understand this is something that would be a real benefit for the community and as a whole, we’re seeing a groundswell from the public for this.”