We are profoundly disappointed to learn that seven months after the Strand Theatre capital campaign was supposed to have kicked into high gear, the campaign has lingered in neutral.
Not a single dollar has apparently been raised by the campaign team, and in fact the group has not yet started fundraising.
“We’re still sorting out our contact list … of people that we’re going to be approaching for funding,” said Krystyna Tarwid, co-chair of the Raising the Curtain committee. “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 launch had all the bells and whistles — a wine and cheese, lots of big names and influential people named to the committee and in the audience, and it also included a lighting of the theatre’s marquee to signal to the community the Strand was coming back to life.
Was that all just some big joke on the community? A red herring meant to curb criticism while the actual management behind the fundraising campaign continued down the road to ineptitude?
We had really hoped that last November was a watershed moment for the Strand project. The Brandon Folk, Music and Art Society had gathered a strong group of people as part of the campaign team.
But now we learn that 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.
And to be honest, we too think that the project — the creation of a mid-sized downtown performance theatre — is a good one. The plan to reclaim the old downtown landmark would create a unique and much-needed addition to Brandon’s cultural scene. This is a project we want to see succeed.
We share the disbelief expressed by Coun. Corey Roberts (Rosser) earlier this week when he was told of the lack of fundraising.
“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.
But this fiasco has gone on far too long. This project should only have taken a number of months to get underway, but this project has been dragging its feet, lumbering forward from controversy to controversy for more than five years.
From an initial funding application that was at first refused by the federal government, a lengthy process of review and reapplication, the prolonged Brown Block fiasco, questions over Renaissance Brandon funding — not to mention the fact that former Conservative MP Merv Tweed withdrew his support in the midst of the organization’s reapplication process — it has been a difficult journey for Strand proponents.
It was our belief that fundraising had begun in earnest after the launch. There was even a Scotch-tasting event organized by the BFMAS on Feb. 22. Proceeds from that pricey event were to be split evenly between programming for the folk festival in 2014 and the ongoing costs of developing the Strand.
Did the BFMAS actually lose money on that event, or did potential revenue get swallowed up by the folk fest operations?
We are quickly losing confidence in the ability of this group to get the project moving forward. We agree with Roberts, who is also chairman of the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee, when he suggests the Strand group ask for help and advice.
And here’s some advice of our own: Start asking for money.
That’s how fundraising works.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 13, 2014