IMPRESSIVE NEW OUTDOOR GALLERY WILL ALLOW NK’MIP DESERT CULTURAL CENTRE TO HOST WEDDINGS, CULTURAL EVENTS
Posted on 24 October 2012 by Keith Lacey
The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre is a very busy place during the peak tourist season as it attracts thousands of tourists from across the province and around the world. Those numbers are expected to increase dramatically following the completion of an outdoor gallery – complete with a new weather-resistant padded floor and shade sails.
Desert Cultural Centre staff and numerous supporters gathered last Thursday to officially celebrate the grand opening of the outdoor gallery, which is officially called the Senulustn Gallery Project.
The outdoor gallery will allow the centre to host numerous public functions, including weddings, parties and cultural events, said manager Charlotte Stringam.
The new floor, which is made of more than 2,000 tiles made from recycled rubber tires, is located in the back of the cultural centre. The tiles were installed over what was several hundred metres of crushed rock leading to walking trails behind the cultural centre.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Stringam. “It has taken awhile to get the funding required to get the floor built, but we’ve finally got it done and we’re all very pleased.
“The addition of this outdoor gallery makes this a beautiful place for people to come and visit.”
The outdoor gallery will provide a gorgeous view of the Town of Osoyoos as well as the mountains located east of the cultural centre and is sure to become a very popular location to host public functions and cultural events, she said.
John Herbert, the centre’s director of maintenance, deserves a lot of credit as he and a couple of summer students spent almost two months installing the rubberized tiles during the blistering hot summer heat, said Stringam.
“It took a lot of time and effort to get this done … and it happened in the middle of our very hot summer,” she said. “John and his crew did an amazing job.
“The work John did putting in this floor piece-by-piece is fantastic. It was very hot and involved a lot of hard work and I would like to thank him for this. We needed this new floor to host dances and cultural events and this outdoor gallery will be a great addition to our centre.”
Clarence Louie, chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band, which owns and manages the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, said this tourist attraction has come a long way in the past 10 years.
The cultural centre originally started in a bunch of trailers located in what is now the main parking lot for the centre, he said.
The current building was constructed in 2006 and has become increasingly busy over the past six years, said Louie.
The addition of the new outdoor gallery is sure to be booked solid for parties, weddings and cultural events for many years to come, he said.
“I’m sure there will be more weddings and parties out there, which will be awesome,” he said.
The Okanagan Valley is comprised of a mixture of different cultures and the outdoor gallery will reflect this mix as it will be used by various people and organizations for a wide cross-section of events, he said.
“We look forward to sharing this place with thousands of people,” he said.
There were numerous sponsors responsible for helping provide funding for the outdoor gallery and they all deserve credit for making this proposal become reality over the past several months,, said Stringam.
The newly-established Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIC) was given $50 million by the provincial government to sponsor and fund economic development initiatives throughout this part of the province, said Stringam.
After completing a detailed business plan, a proposal was sent to SIDIC’s board of directors, which includes Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells, and funding to build the outdoor gallery was approved several months ago.
“In our business plan, we detailed that if we got this floor built we would be able to dramatically increase economic development,” she said.
The cultural centre’s goal has been to become totally self-sufficient and generate enough revenue to break even, said Stringam.
The opening of the outdoor gallery will help generate significant revenue that will go a long way towards eventually reaching that goal, said Stringam.
Luby Pow, chief executive officer of SIDIC’s board of directors, said the organization’s vision to assist businesses and organizations that are committed to solid economic development ideas has not changed and the board is convinced this new outdoor gallery will be a huge success in bringing new clients to the cultural centre and Town of Osoyoos.
“This centre provides the type of experiential tourism opportunities people are looking for,” she said. “We’re really grateful to have the opportunity to donate funding to this project and we’re proud to be sponsors.”
Stringam also thanked many other sponsors who contributed money and services to the project, including FortisBC, the Okanagan Nation Alliance and Tech Metals.
The outdoor gallery will be open for public functions and parties starting next spring.
For more information, contact the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre at 250-495-7901 or toll-free at 1-888-495-8555.