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Feds reject revised Strand funding request

People watch the lights of the Strand Theatre after a ceremony last month to kick off a $700,000 fundraising effort toward the building's renewal as a community performance and arts centre.

COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

People watch the lights of the Strand Theatre after a ceremony last month to kick off a $700,000 fundraising effort toward the building's renewal as a community performance and arts centre.

The province is in, but the federal government is still out.

That’s the latest in the effort to secure financial support for the Strand Theatre’s $3-million redevelopment project.

"I haven’t seen (the rejection letter) … but it’s my understanding that we did get written notification," said Jay Winburn, co-chair of the Raising the Curtain fundraising campaign.

Winburn was referring to the $1.2-million revised proposal that the Brandon Folk, Music and Art Society submitted to the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund last January.

Winburn is relatively new to the project and said it was basically a "foregone conclusion" that it wouldn’t be funded since they began developing the Raising the Curtain campaign, due to the fact that former Brandon-Souris MP Merv Tweed did not support the project.

In October 2012, Tweed spoke out against the project, saying that the "lengthy delays in applying and reapplying for grants" left him where he could no longer support spending federal funds on the project.

Two weeks ago, more than 50 people came together to mark the launch of the Raising the Curtain campaign, which Winburn is calling a "positive new start."

Winburn said the goal is to raise $700,000 for the project, which will demonstrate that the community is behind the facility.

"Before we go back to the federal government, we hope to have a solid expression of the need for it and willing to support it," he said. The committee is also hoping newly elected Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire will be more open to the project.

"It’s our decision not to ask for any funding from any public sources until we have proven that the community is behind this. I am quite confident, in the end, that we’ll get funding from all three levels of government," Winburn said.

The goal is to restore the historic Strand into a multi-use community performance and arts centre. About 27 local groups have expressed their desire to use such a facility.

"The response that I’ve gotten has been tremendously positive," Winburn said.

Manitoba Heritage Minister Ron Lemieux said the province remains "fully supportive" of the Strand project, as it has from "Day 1."

"We think that the Strand Theatre really holds a lot of potential for revitalizing the downtown area of Brandon," he said.

Lemieux said the fundraising campaign is a significant step forward for the project.

"You really need the … community taking hold of initiatives like this," he said. "They’re from Brandon, they are the ones that know best what needs to be done and what they would like to do and I know we’re going to continue to work with the proponents in Brandon."

Lemieux added a major initiative like this needs all three levels of government at the table.

"The Strand Theatre is really in many ways an icon in Brandon. It’s important that we do something with it," he said.

Renaissance Brandon’s commitment of $374,000 to the project was dependant on successful funding applications to the federal and provincial governments.

Renaissance Brandon board chair Shaun Cameron said they haven’t received official word from the Strand committee that the federal application was rejected. Cameron said they will now look at re-working their budget for the coming year.

"We want to support a downtown arts and entertainment venue, because it makes sense for our area," he said. "As far as where it’ll be as far as priorities, I’ll definitely have to address it as a whole board before I could make a statement on that."

The Strand committee is on the agenda for Renaissance Brandon’s meeting later this month, which is likely where the board will receive official word.

Winburn said the committee apologizes for the "mix-up," and admitted he thought the federal rejection was "public knowledge."

"I think there was definitely an error made there, for which as part of the team I apologize for," he said. "But I want things to go ahead in a positive way with all groups working together because it’s going to take more than a single group to make everything people want to do for Brandon successful."

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 3, 2013

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Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 7 Commentscomment icon

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I contacted @StrandTheatreBr to offer my suggestions for a fundraiser idea that I had.

On December 16, it will mark 43 years since we lined up at the Strand to watch the movie Love Story.

The lineups were all the way up the block and around the corner in 1970.

My idea was that they could charge $20.00 per person, perhaps, and then provide popcorn and soft drinks to the audience, who would come to the Strand to attend this movie.

I suggested that we could wear 70's clothing and that we could ask some of the former Strand movie personnel to don their old Strand Theater uniforms, etc.

I suggested that after we had watched this movie that there could be a time where people would have a turn to introduce themselves and express where they were in their lives when this movie came out, the impact that this movie had upon them at the time, what the Strand theater meant to them, etc.

This was just my suggestion and I asked if anyone thought that this idea would even fly.

Then I contacted the multi-talented and gifted Ms. Sarah McLachlan to ask her if any of her artist friends might be interested in helping the Strand Theater group out.

To my dismay, I never heard anything back from the Strand group.

If this is project is seen as an "elitist" type of fundraising event then citizens will NOT get on board to help fundraise.

Many have expressed that they are ALL tapped out via the high taxes that they are already paying and that all money should come from fundraising events.

My goodness, where are these supposedly thirty groups performing now? Lots of venues already in place that the taxpayers are footing the bill for! Why are the supporters of the Strand so dramatic? Too many acting lessons?

Arlene Saito

No money for the Strand? OK, then no money for sports, infrastructure transit, roads, etc. User pay. Tolls roads here we come. Need an operation? Pay up. Public library? Burn it down. Public housing? Fuggetaboutit, live under a bridge.

There are so many reasons why this project should be supported. The Arts are essential to the nourishment of an individual and a society. Man does not survive on bread alone. This is a community project which benefits the whole community, indeed, the whole province. All elements of the community and governments who work for the betterment of and represent the interests of the community, should support a solid plan which enhances the life of a community.<br /><br />George Buri

Drew, I think what people have a problem with is BFMAS sitting around and not doing their own fund raising for the last five years! This group has been waiting for three levels of government to pony up the cash, oh yes, and Renaissance Brandon to help! Let's see how much this new group can raise for the Strand. By the way all the taxpayers want is for this project to not be dependant on taxpayer cash, we already have places that are funded from our pockets. I and many other look forward to the Strand being responsible for their own operating costs if and when the project gets going!

Arlene Saito

Anonymous online attacks, often bitterly partisan and personal, have damaged the reputation of our city in relation to the redevelopment of the historic Strand Theatre in the Downtwon HUB "Arts and Entertainment District."

In fact, in every single successful community where the redevelopment of a historic theatre has occurred the economic benefits have been overwhelmingly positive and ongoing.

Apart from being a matter of community pride - remember the many buildings and architectural gems in Brandon that have been destroyed - the creation of a culturally dynamic and artistically vibrant core area is a fundamental element in stimulating community economic development Downtown. In fact, such projects stabilze and expand the tax base in communities where they occur. In fact, such initiaves project community pride, confidence, vitality and sophistication. In fact, such projects have a proven track-record of successfully stimulating renewal, revival and expanded community economic development.

Ignorance, fear, disgust and loathing are the tools generally employed by those who seek to divide and destroy in our community. I support those who seek to build, who daily demonstrate integrity, and who honestly believe in building a better Brandon for all people.

Good! If the arts "community" wants a place to perform then they should build/pay for it! I have no desire to want to see this stupid idea paid for with my money! Province shouldnt be in it either! Brandon has a few places these people could but of course they would have to pay!

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The province is in, but the federal government is still out.

That’s the latest in the effort to secure financial support for the Strand Theatre’s $3-million redevelopment project.

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The province is in, but the federal government is still out.

That’s the latest in the effort to secure financial support for the Strand Theatre’s $3-million redevelopment project.

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