April 21st, 2024

Advocates seeking performing arts centre on list of capital projects

By Tim Kalinowski on April 30, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALD tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

The possibility of constructing a new performing arts centre downtown was once again on city council’s radar as the Economic Standing Policy Committee heard from advocates seeking assurances their project would be on the council’s list of capital projects to be completed in the next 10 years.
During Wednesday’s committee meeting advocate Dianne King, who is a member of city council’s performing arts centre steering committee, pointed to the City’s own public plans dating back over the last 20 years identifying that the citizens of Lethbridge have long requested a new performing arts centre, including in its 2021 community survey used during the public consultation process for the City of Lethbridge’s new community master plan.
“It (the 2021 survey) captured that a performing arts facility is among the community’s top three priorities for new recreation and culture priorities,” emphasized King.
King said advocates for the performing arts centre realize given the economic circumstances of the moment it would be irresponsible of city council to commit to funding the $111 million dollar project in full, but hoped they could help push the project forward by retaining the performing arts centre as an approved project in the 10-year (2022-2032) CIP cycle. Council could also help foster the project, she stated, by setting aside a site location in the Civic Common (publicly owned lands near city hall) where the theatre will one day be built, and also by approving interim funding for a comprehensive site plan to get this chosen site in a position to be shovel ready when federal and provincial culture dollars once more become available.
“Our performing arts centre will serve Lethbridge and communities far and wide for the next 100 years,” said King. “We implore you to move this project forward. As visionary civic leaders it is up to you to ensure that a performing arts centre remains in the 2022 to 2032 CIP, and is ultimately built to meet the needs of audiences and performers. We must plant trees under whose shade we do not intend to sit.”
Coun. Jeffrey Carlson, who also sits on the steering committee, was asked by fellow Economic Standing Policy Committee members what kind of financial commitment against the $111 million project would be expected at this time?
Carlson said there was no specific monetary ask attached to the committee’s request to keep the performing arts centre in the upcoming 10-year CIP cycle as there were too many uncertainties surrounding grants for the project at the moment. He said the committee was asking, as King had stated, for a site for the new facility to be chosen and an approval in principle so committee members could return to council as necessary to make further financial requests as provincial or federal grants became available– similar to the arrangement council had with The Exhibition before the Kenney government decided last year to fund its conference centre project.
He acknowledged the committee would be seeking $900,000 in a separate CIP request for the completion of a comprehensive site plan in 2022 once council chose the location within the Civic Common where the performing arts centre would be built.
The Economic Standing Policy Committee received the report on the performing arts centre for information, and will forward the project on for closer consideration when council votes on its CIP priorities for 2022-2032 later this spring.

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very frustrating is the waste that became the casa. first, we got ripped off buying a useless building that was overpriced based on a rigged appraisal – or an extremely incompetent one – that did not factor in the cost of demolition and removal. don’t agree: we have several other closed grocery stores in town, and none of them have buyers, numerous years later.
then, the casa is built for a tens of millions, but only mostly to house privileged artists…a very expensive and publicly funded building that has come to provide those chosen office space away from home. and here i thought this was going to be a multipurpose building that was to provide us an improved theatre with more seating capacity. perhaps it was my misunderstanding due to my hopefulness rather than being purposely misled; perhaps i am the only one that thought the casa was to be our new theatre?
then, the city invests numerous more millions to refurbish the yates – and like the upgrades to the enmax, they are hardly noticeable. (i got to “dance and sway” with a supporting post directly in my sight line at the refurbished enmax throughout a cirque de soleil event a couple years back). however, the point is: why spend so much on the yates if it is to be mothballed?
i believe in the arts. i love the experience of live theatre and music. but, i am not a big fan of waste. and together, the casa and the yates (and the enmax) have come to represent waste in a grandiose way. with the right facilities, there is money to be made hosting live performances. i suggest rather than build yet another facility at huge expense, we make appropriate use of the casa. reconfigure that structure to house our larger theatre. if we really need to be housing artists in this town at the public expense, they can be moved into any of the sundry spaces in town that sit vacant.


Yes we the taxpayers donate to the allied arts group over $750,000.00 a year and they keep demanding more, under their care the Casa has become a piece of junk. The Pac committee chair should be charged with conflict of interest with his work forNew West theatre he declared on Yates vote. It shows how greedy this art group are , the PAC plan went from $50 million to $75million now to $111million ,when the Arts group show us their third share of the dollars maybe it might be built now a big no.

Seth Anthony

Back in the day, when an artists wanted to show their work, they would invite people into their home, or rent a small place in the town centre and charged a fee for admission. Back in the day, the performing arts people did the same. Fast forward to today, and the artists want to force people to pay for their hobby.

If an artist showed up at your door and said, “I want a studio for my hobby, and you’re going to pay for it”, you would at best think they’re nuts, and at worse, slam the door in their face. Yet, in a round about way, that is exactly what is occurring.

Worth a repeat:

Art is a want, not a need. It’s also subjective and only applies to a small minority. If the arts people want these grand buildings and all the costs associated with that, then they should pay for it themselves by donations and ticket costs. Of course they’ll cry, “But that’s not nearly enough money!”. You know why that’s not enough money? Because the vast majority of taxpayers don’t want to pay for something they don’t use (especially when it’s a want and not a need). If you want to engage in your hobby, then pay for it yourself. Don’t force others to.

What would happen if the hospital disappeared? What would happen if the service people disappeared? What would happen if the doctor’s offices disappeared? What would happen if the grocery stores disappeared? If those disappeared, it would cause society to break down. What would happen to society if Casa, the Yates, etc, disappeared? Absolutely nothing. This proves that art is a want, not a need. Then again, you can also prove that art is want and not a need, by simply asking: Can you eat art? Does art stop you from freezing to death? Does art fix your car, furnace, computer, etc? Does art address your arthritis, bad back, eczema, etc? In other words, art does nothing that you can’t do yourself…for free. If the arts people want a building, then it should be run by volunteers, and paid for by admission fees, donations, and general fundraising activities. If that’s not nearly enough money, then it’s because they don’t have the public’s support, and therefore shouldn’t exist. OR, exist only at the level that the money they can can raise will support.

Last edited 2 years ago by Seth Anthony