The Okanagan Screen Arts Society, which operates Vernon’s historic Towne Theatre, has received more than $100K in provincial gaming funds to upgrade equipment at the legendary facility. (Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce photo)

The Okanagan Screen Arts Society, which operates Vernon’s historic Towne Theatre, has received more than $100K in provincial gaming funds to upgrade equipment at the legendary facility. (Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce photo)

Curtain – a new curtain at that – going up on Vernon theatre upgrades

Okanagan Screen Arts Society, which runs Towne Theatre, receives more than $100K in funding

People throughout the Interior will benefit from upgrades to not-for-profit services and programs with additional funding from B.C.’s Community Gaming Grants program.

Thirteen new capital project grants were awarded throughout the Interior region for a total of $1 million, including the Vernon-based Okanagan Screen Arts Society which operates the historic Towne Theatre.

The society will receive $106,087 for equipment acquisitions for the theatre.

“From bringing new independent films to the North Okanagan to supporting post-secondary students pursuing their goals, the Okanagan Screen Arts Society has brought so much richness to our community,” says Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “I am thrilled to see this funding support upgrades to their theatre so they can continue and expand their programming.”

The society plans to replace and upgrade the theatre’s sound equipment, lighting equipment, curtain and acoustics. The upgrade will allow the theatre to continue with its traditional programming elements and add capacity for larger, live events.

Organizations that have been navigating increased service pressures during the pandemic have been prioritized in this round of funding. Many not-for-profit organizations are using these funds to make adjustments that support physical distancing and other measures to ensure services and activities meet public health and safety guidelines.

“Due to COVID-19 closures, the future of the historic Vernon Towne Theatre – that our organization operates – was in jeopardy,” said Scott John, board member, Okanagan Screen Arts Society. “This grant allows the society to purchase much-needed equipment and add the ability to host live events in addition to its film offerings. This capacity building will ensure long-term viability for the theatre as it continues to be a community gathering place and entertain future generations of residents.”

With this final round of 2021-22 funding, the Community Gaming Grants capital projects program will provide $3.8 million to 51 not-for-profit organizations throughout B.C. for upgrades to community infrastructure, updated technology and new equipment. This is in addition to $5 million in capital funding for 45 not-for-profit groups announced in January 2022.

New projects funded in this round of grants in the Interior include the Camp Grafton Society in Shuswap’s Magna Bay receiving $30,000 for maintenance and infrastructure upgrades.

“Not-for-profit organizations are at the heart of fostering healthy, connected and safe communities in B.C.,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “This $3.8 million in extra funding will help organizations buy equipment and make renovations to brighten our communities and give people safer, improved access to key services and programs.”

READ MORE: Return of live theatre sells out at Vernon high school

READ MORE: $30M pledged for Vancouver to host winter hybrid Invictus Games in 2025

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