Staff at the City of Kimberley will be working on addressing deficiencies at Centre 64 in preparation for the upcoming infrastructure grant rollout this spring.
Mayor Ron McRae told Council this week that he had met with Carol Fergus and Mike Redfern from the Arts Council to get the wheels in motion on applying for funds for needed upgrades to the arts centre. Of primary importance is the need for an elevator.
For years the Arts Council has been advocating for some way to make the building fully accessible. The main issue is the theatre and upper gallery, which are only accessible by several sets of stairs.
While the ultimate goal is a new theatre and workshop extension to Centre 64 (expanding into the lot next door now owned by the City) it has become clear that infrastructure funding is not currently available for a project of that magnitude. Instead the Arts Council is turning its energies bringing enhancements and upgrades to the current building.
City staff had an engineer examine Centre 64 and the Arts Council has been informed that theatre roof struts must be reinforced and a sprinkler system installed before an elevator could be put in the building.
In a letter to Council, Arts Council President Mike Redfern stressed the need for the centre to be accessible to all residents.
“Without an elevator a section of the population, those elderly and infirm who cannot manage stairs, is currently denied this opportunity. A poignant example of this is the case of one of Kimberley’s most successful visual artists, Caprice Hogg, who has acted as a juror in our annual Arts on the Edge exhibition but has been unable to access the upper gallery to see and judge the artworks there and who has never been able to attend a play or concert in the theatre.”
Redfern also told Council that while the Arts Council understands the financial constraints the City must operate within, they hope that funds can be found for the sprinkler system and roof struts so that funds can then be sought for the elevator.