On Another Stream (published Op-Ed) 1B

Here is the column that was published on Friday (November 2nd):

Another way to look at a Performing Arts Centre

Part II: But why should the downtown churches even think about this?

Well, perhaps for their very survival might be one place to start. But on a more optimistic note it would help ensure a minimum of 18 hours a week of usage of the new facility. There would be at least three church services between Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday evening at 10:00 p.m. Given the opportunity it is not inconceivable that they might even combine their strengths and put on a mid-afternoon youth and/or young family contemporary worship. During their allotted time slot, in addition to the regular church services, denominations could also use some of the other rooms for Christian education programming.

So how exactly does this new PAC fit in? Well, that’s the central point. The main auditorium that is the focus of the Centre would become the site of Sunday worship. The audio-visual components of the Centre could be utilized by each minister or priest to reinforce or add to the impact of sermons, scripture readings and hymn singing. The theatre could even be designed so that the lighting blocked out empty sections – the smaller the attendance on any given Sunday the less need for balcony and other seating, and it would still seem like a goodly number of people were participating.

From the get-go, I’d recommend keeping St. Saviour’s as the one regular church building for this consortium. It is the most traditional and perhaps has the longest standing history. Again though, it would not be exclusive to the Anglican communion – in fact, it would be placed in rotational scheduling so that other denominations would not only have access for certain weddings, funerals, etc. but each weekend a certain time slot would be allocated to the other denominations for regular service usage. Perhaps the scheduling could be on a three-year rotation. For example one year might look as follows:

Saturday masses at 6:30 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. Sunday morning Presbyterian service at 9:30 a.m. and the United at 11:30 a.m. (The Anglicans in this rotation would meet at St. Saviour’s, next rotation another congregation would). The early/

mid afternoon would be an inter-denominational youth/young family time and Sunday evening (or late afternoon) would be a special service or program.

PAC could be built with several multi-purpose rooms with sizeable storage cupboards, allowing each congregation during its time slots to operate its Christian Education as well as other mid-week programs as part of their community outreach. These might range from children’s theatre, noon lectures, Bible and other church-related studies, specific ladies or men’s church groups, volunteer or special interest groups/committees, community town hall sessions.

On these other days of the week, drama or music groups also could hold their practices and lessons – the list could be endless. This would ensure that there was always a sense of activity at PPC including cars in the parking lot and people coming and going. A side benefit is that the congregations themselves would get more opportunities to mix and mingle and work on cooperative ventures with other non-church groups having a local focus or and possibly some with more national and international emphases.

Starting with 16-18 hours booked each week makes the remaining 87-89 hours/week much less daunting. Many organization would use it once a month for approximately 5-6 hours/occasion which implies the need for 14 or 15 organizations vested in developing programming. In addition to the Okanagan Symphony and its youth orchestra & choruses, there are various choirs, drama clubs, school productions and music festivals. Special screenings including film festivals and workshops become real possibilities. Moreover, partnerships with Arts organizations in Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops become more feasible so that travelling acts not big enough for the SOEC but too big for the small auditoriums now would have a home.

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