Slowly but surely, the dream to build a community theatre in Merritt is coming together.
The Nicola Valley Community Theatre Society was recently given $250,000 from the province’s community gaming grants.
Society Director Rich Hodgson says they’re expecting some other pretty big grants soon.
“We have an application into the Federal Government for $1.5 million, and we’re working on the last grant right now,” he said. “We think it’ll be around $1.1 million.”
“So, if those two grants come positive, we’ve got ourselves a community theatre.”
Hodgson says larger centres like Penticton get a lot of money from these grants, and Merritt is “trying to dip our toes in the water,” and build something in that community.
It’s a sizable 14,000 sq. ft. facility with three theatres in total – one will seat 133 people, the second 101, and the third will seat 81 people.
To date, the Society has raised about $1.5-million of their $3.9-million goal, and Hodgson notes significant were strides made in the last year.
“Most of the schools in town, none of them have a stage for performances,” he added. “We have no theatre in town, so this is sort of a mix of all of those things as a community hub that’ll start the community growing in the arts and culture area.”
The Society’s only criteria was to not go into debt, opting to raise all the money before going ahead.
They don’t have a tentative opening date just yet, but they’ve already got the land for the project, at the corner of Garcia Street and Coutlee Avenue in Merritt.