The Brandon Folk, Music and Art Society has been given another chance to secure funding for its Strand Theatre revitalization project.
As Renaissance Brandon announced Thursday, they have prepared a new agreement with the BFMAS, requiring the society to formally submit a revised funding proposal to the federal government by Jan. 31.
"That’s the kind of caveat we wanted in there to ensure that we could keep the momentum behind the project," said Renaissance Brandon chair Shaun Cameron.
The previous agreement, which required the BFMAS to actually secure government funding, was set to expire today.
Renaissance Brandon will commit $374,000 to the BFMAS pending successful funding applications to the federal and provincial governments.
"The vision for the Strand put forth by BFMAS remains aligned with Renaissance Brandon’s vision for an arts and entertainment district," Cameron said. "A project of this nature supports many of the themes set forth in our vision plan."
The previous commitment was $474,000. However, $100,000 has since been spent on stabilizing The Strand building after the Brown Block partially collapsed.
Shandra MacNeill, artistic director with the BFMAS, said she is pleased that Renaissance Brandon is continuing its funding commitment for the project.
"It’s really a chance of a lifetime for our city to build a facility like this," MacNeill said. "We’ve seen models for this in other communities. This one is a little bit special though because it does have huge flexibility in its usage. Everything from small theatre productions to dance performances, live music … But we also have the ability to handle private functions as well — wedding receptions, business meetings, workshops …"
MacNeill said there are about 30 groups that have shown interest in using such a facility.
"We have good representation from all the groups in town that do live performance, whether that’s music, theatre, dance or literary arts ... we have a really broad cross-section," she said.
The Strand Theatre was built in 1917 and was refurbished into a movie theatre in 1930.
The new funding agreement between Renaissance Brandon and BFMAS states the $374,000 would be payable over two years, based on several conditions, including that the applications to the federal and provincial governments are successful. The BFMAS must also provide Renaissance Brandon with a written progress update by the 15th of each month.
This project has been years in the making. BFMAS had previously submitted a $1.8-million funding application to the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, but were rejected last March. They were invited to reapply with a revised business and fundraising plan.
MacNeill said they are completing the "final editing and tweaking" of the revised proposal.
"There is a fundraising cabinet that’s been working on their fundraising plan, that was one of the things we had to work on for the federal submission as well," she said. "So when they are ready to go … they will be launching that campaign."
In October, Premier Greg Selinger publicly backed the restoration project, while Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Merv Tweed said he no longer supported it, due to the lengthy delays in applying and reapplying for grants.
MacNeill said she is optimistic about funding coming together for the project, adding work has already begun on the inside of the theatre thanks to some in-kind labour.
"We do want to get the building into a position where we can take people through, because you only have to stand in that theatre with all the seats there to be able to imagine the really wonderful and fantastic things that can go on there, and how it would be to shine a spotlight on our local performers," she said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 7, 2012