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."