An electrical upgrade here, and asbestos removal there, and Vernon’s Caetani Cultural Centre can open to the public, which has been a 25-year dream.
The centre’s society board has approached Greater Vernon Advisory Council with a funding request of $35,000 which will pay for the centre’s two remaining goals of its Open House Project.
“The primary goal of our Open House Project is to prepare the house, a City of Vernon-owned asset, as a publicly accessible facility for community arts, culture and heritage,” said cultural centre executive director Susan Brandoli. “A further objective is to generate those activities that are suited to the original vision and at the same time, generate self-sustaining revenues.”
The Caetani House and grounds on Pleasant Valley Road in Vernon were a bequest to the city in 1994, and the site was envisioned as a community-accessible centre for arts, culture and heritage.
The Caetani Cultural Centre Society manages the cultural programming, events and facility development.
One of its mandates is to make the publicly owned assett accessible to the public.
“We have made excellent progress, but we still face a few unexpected challenges,” said Brandoli, noting the society has raised more than $200,000 toward the project.
The society has installed fire suppression and alarm systems, along with HVAC upgrades specifically required as a pre-requisite to opening the house to the public. The safety and structural integrity of the house and grounds have also been upgraded.
But the house can’t be open to the public until the property’s electrical system is upgraded.
Asbestos was also discovered in the house during the upgrades, something the society prepared for, but did not budget enough.
“We applied for additional grants to cover the remaining house improvements; however, these applications were unfortunately unsuccessful, even though we had two-thirds of our funding in place,” said Brandoli. “We were extremely disappointed because this project appeared to be an excellent fit with these grants.”
The funding request would allow the soicety to move toward community access and have the Caetani Cultural Centre open to the public.
“It will also allow us to do additional fundraising within the community to build the public heritage displays, as well as new arts and cultural studio and performance spaces,” said Brandoli. “After almost 25 years of waiting, our ability to open the facility and grounds to full public access is within sight.”
GVAC deferred the request to its next meeting in April.
“Caetani House has the potential to be the next great added amenity in our community,” said GVAC chairperson Juliette Cunningham. “It’s an opportunity for it to be a really great facility.”