sopac question mark

A question mark is turning heads on Nanaimo Ave East and Ellis Street.

A question mark literally hangs over a vacant downtown Penticton lot that has long been slated for a South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre.

Glenn Sinclair, the treasurer of the South Okanagan Performance Arts Centre Society, said after 25 years of lobbying and nine failed attempts at building a new arts hub, the new board has a new game plan.

“You don’t do good planning starting with the end. You don’t want to go to a football game and have the score already posted and hope the players can reach it,” he said.

After the previous board resigned at last year’s annual general meeting, Sinclair stepped up with a team of three others to start from square one and put forth what he said SOPAC never had: a strategic vision.

“We don’t even know if there’s a consensus in the South Okanagan of what the arts mean,” he said. “If we don’t know that, how can we ever start to put together a vision?”

With that in mind, Sinclair said, he slapped a question mark over the existing sign on Nanaimo Avenue East as a way to show even he, and the board, don’t know what the future holds for the lot.

“I want input,” he said. “I want to know from not just the arts community, I want to know  from the winery people, I want to know from the tourist people, from the schools, from the industry and business community, when I say, ‘Arts,’ what does that mean to the South Okanagan-Similkameen?”

And if the community says it doesn’t want a new performing arts centre, SOPAC won’t build one, said Sinclair.

“Maybe there is no vision. We may call a little news conference saying we’re turning over our assets,” he added. 

But if the general consensus comes back positive, “the promise is no more than step one, except to tell you what the vision is,” said Sinclair.

SOPAC will be hosting an invite-only “visionary workshop” from Oct. 25-27 to hear from a variety of community members on a performing arts centre.

The effort is being funded by $5,000 each from the City of Penticton, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and SOPAC.