Pairing a theatre/arts centre with two highrise towers shouldn’t be dismissed as a ‘fob’

Pairing a theatre/arts centre with two highrise towers shouldn’t be dismissed as a ‘fob’

We missed arts opportunity once

Editor:

Re: Divided views over arts-centre towers, Oct. 24.

Editor:

Re: Divided views over arts-centre towers, Oct. 24.

I wish to disagree with David Cann, president of the Semiahmoo Residents Association, who says the proposed 350-seat theatre included in the twin towers – and I quote from your story – “seems like a bit of a fob.”

In your paper’s story, Cann noted “Bosa’s Miramar Village development in White Rock was also described as the site of an art centre in its early stages but evolved into a more broadly defined community centre.”

As it happens, I wrote about the Bosa development for BC Business magazine, and the real story was that while Bosa valiantly tried to gain the support of the local visual-arts community for an art gallery at Miramar, virtually no local artist of prominence would step forward to endorse the concept. That’s when Bosa gave up the space for a community centre and, instead, donated $275,000 to the White Rock Players’ Club for the refurbishing of the now-Coast Capital Playhouse Theatre – which some people called a bribe and others understood to be, like the Reifel Cooke Group’s proposed theatre, the cost developers are obliged to pay in order to receive zoning concessions from city governments.

The point is, instead of opposing these concessions and calling them “a fob,” local artists, performers and theatre audiences would do better pressing Reifel Cooke to build and equip a first-class, fully professional theatre space in return for their support.

And in answer to Cann’s questioning “the need for more theatre space in the context of the nearby Coast Capital Playhouse in White Rock and the Wheelhouse Theatre at Earl Marriott Secondary,” I suggest he try to produce a local theatre run in South Surrey – as I have – and he will find the Playhouse schedule filled with the theatre’s own productions and the Wheelhouse bound by the kind of rules and restrictions one would associate with a high-school administration naturally more focused on students than producers.

Perhaps a new theatre would attract more professional theatre productions, as it has in Deep Cove, or be an inviting place for Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company road shows, if the facility meets their standards.

I have no argument with people who stand against a 20-storey tower in South Surrey, but for those who would like to see a new theatre and arts facility in our community, this is the time to pursue Reifel Cooke and offer support in exchange for a professional, state-of-the-art theatre.

The window of opportunity in the residential development business is brief. The time to ensure this concession is now.

Myles Murchison, Surrey