Nearly seven months have passed since the splashy launch of the Strand Theatre’s capital campaign, and not a dollar has been raised for the project.
Krystyna Tarwid, co-chair of the Raising the Curtain committee, told the Sun on Wednesday they have not yet started fundraising.
"We’re still sorting out our contact list … of people that we’re going to be approaching for funding," she said. "We’re identifying the donors, getting corporate contacts and preparing the materials to give to them."
The launch of the Raising the Curtain campaign was held Nov. 19, 2013 across the street from the Strand at the BDO office on 10th Street.
The vision is to redevelop the historic theatre into a multi-use community performance and arts centre.
More than 50 people attended the launch, which included the lighting of the theatre’s marquee to signal to the community the Strand is coming back to life.
But despite the excitement of the launch, the process has been slow-going. Tarwid said that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
"This project has been sort of germinating for a number of years obviously," she said. "In some ways, it’s probably better it’s going slower than faster, because at least then you know you’ve got everybody on board, and things evolve, so I don’t see anything wrong with it being slower probably than some people would like."
Some original committee members have since left the project, including former co-chair Jay Winburn, who resigned for personal reasons. When contacted by the Sun this week, Winburn stressed he still supports the effort.
"My leaving had nothing to do with lack of support for the project or effort," he said.
BDO partner Jeanne Millis was a key speaker at the launch event, and is no longer involved as she is moving away from Brandon.
Despite the resignations, Tarwid said there is still a "fair bit" of community support and a lot happening behind the scenes.
"We have a number of people on the committee and we’re still working on the contacts and getting the package together," she said.
"You can’t just start knocking on doors, you have to have lists of people that you’re going to be approaching. Some you want to work with, some you want to ask for money, so it’s not something that you can just pull together in one meeting."
The goal of the fundraising campaign is to raise $700,000 for the project, with naming rights available for the theatre/concert hall, the gallery/lobby, three studio classroom spaces, and other portions of the venue.
The estimated cost of the project as of last fall was $3 million.
About 27 local groups had previously expressed their desire to use such a facility.
The Strand Theatre was built as a silent movie theatre in 1917. It closed around 2004-05 when the new multiplex opened in Brandon’s south end.
Coun. Corey Roberts (Rosser) was at a loss for words when he heard the fundraising hasn’t even begun for the project.
"The way that it was launched in the fall of last year, I had anticipated and I’m sure the general public anticipated that there would be a call for public support," he said.
Roberts said he is disappointed that the project has been "floundering" for so long.
"I hate to tell anybody what to do, but they need some help," he said. "Maybe instead of putting packages together for money, they need to put packages together for volunteers."
He suggested reaching out to the performance art community groups to help out "because ultimately this building is for them."
Roberts is the chairman of the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee and says the historic building on 10th Street is an important component to Brandon’s downtown.
"I hope if they need help, please make that request public so that those folks that are concerned can lend a hand."
The Sun attempted to contact the theatre’s owner, Landmark Cinemas of Canada, but our call was not returned.
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