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Arts Council funds upgrade to stage at Sonora Centre
The stage at the Sonora Community Centre was getting a facelift last week thanks to a contribution by the Osoyoos and District Arts Council.
Recently the floor on the stage was refinished and work was underway to replace the curtains, including extending curtains at the rear and sides to hide the unsightly background construction.
“For many years the stage at the Sonora Community Centre has been in need of renovations,” said Sue Whittaker, chair of the Arts Council. “The old wood floor was worn and splintery and the side and back curtains had deteriorated and been removed. The stage was a mess and unfit for use.”
The renovated stage will get its first use Saturday when the Arts Council holds its fundraiser dinner and show featuring the comic improvisation act The Comic Strippers.
The cost of the renovation project is roughly $19,000, Whittaker said, and the money is coming from a building fund that has been sitting idle for many years.
The money, she said, was raised in the past through events such as a winter festival that celebrated international cultures.
That event was held at a former community centre near the lake, long ago demolished, before the festival moved to the former Elks Hall at what is now the Baptist Church.
Some of the money sat for more than 35 years, but it wasn’t enough to use for its originally intended purpose as a building fund, Whittaker said.
“You can’t build anything for $20,000, but we could renovate something that’s already here and make it more useful as a gift to the community,” Whittaker said, noting the money came from the community originally.
The town was receptive to the idea, she said, noting that the Arts Council has negotiated the use of rooms at the Sonora Centre for some art programs because there is insufficient space at the Arts Centre above the gallery.
“I call this a partnership,” she said. “We help them and they help us.”
The stage is used for a variety of events including wedding receptions, but Whittaker thinks dance, theatre and music events can also use it.
The stage was built about 60 years ago when the building was a school and the quality of the wood used is excellent, she said.
The stage is one of only two real stages in the community, she noted. The other, the community theatre at Osoyoos Secondary School, has a surface of joined plywood, which is not as good for dancing performances, even though audience sightlines are better at the high school theatre.
The Sonora Community Centre stage could be used for other events such as concerts, bands, solo performers and by groups such as Dance Oasis, Whittaker suggests.
Saturday’s event includes a reception followed by a full dinner, a silent auction of donated items, many from local businesses, and a live art auction.
Tickets for the dinner and show can be purchased at Imperial Office Pro for $65 a person. The reception starts at 5 p.m. and dinner is at 6 p.m.