Two of the three professional arts organizations in Kelowna will get a $5,000 increase in city grants this year. Ballet Kelowna's grant may involve a leap of faith.
On Monday, city council approved a $55,000 grant to the Okanagan Symphony Society and $25,000 to the Okanagan Artists Alternative Society, which operates the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art in the Rotary Centre for the Arts. The gallery has already received a $10,000 advance.
Ballet Kelowna Society received $25,000 in 2012, but council asked city staff to report back with information and recommendations after the society's board told staff on Jan. 24 that the company was folding.
Council also wants staff to report the balance of funding remaining in the grant program budget for 2013. During 2013 budget discussions, council increased funding by $15,000 to $110,000.
Ballet Kelowna announced Feb. 1 that it was cancelling a portion of its performance season and winding down its operations, noted Sandra Kochan, the city's cultural services manager.
"Since that time, the society has been gathering support from the community and has been able to reinstate some of their touring performances. However, the financial picture for the organization is not yet clear enough to determine what level of funding from the City of Kelowna is appropriate."
Discussions with the organization are continuing, she said, and staff will report back. In the meantime, each organization is scheduled to make a public presentation to council: Okanagan Symphony Society on Monday, March 4, Alternator Centre on March 18 and Festivals Kelowna, included in the annual professional arts grant review process, on March 25.
Coun. Luke Stack praised the Okanagan Symphony for "really impressive attendance" - estimated at 80 per cent of theatre capacity - and "very exciting contemporary programs."
The Kelowna-Kasugai Sister City Association is working with the symphony on an Asian Heritage Month performance in May 2014 that will feature artists from Kelowna's Japanese sister city.
Mayor Walter Gray recalled attending a recent event at the Rotary Centre for the Arts and discovering the Alternator Gallery - the most valuable or second most valuable space in the RCA - was dark and its doors locked.
At a future council meeting, he said he may ask whether the society that operates the RCA can justify having the Alternator Gallery in there. Kochan reassured the mayor there has been "a real change" in the last year with more outreach and new activities as a result of a new executive director.
Mission Dance Centre has moved its centre of operations into a vacant retail space at the RCA, said Kochan.