The municipality of Summerland has received a Community Excellence Award in the Social Responsibility category from the Southern Interior Local Government Association.
The award was presented at the association’s annual convention in Salmon Arm in late April. It was given in recognition of the municipality’s revitalization of the George Ryga Arts and Cultural Centre.
The building underwent significant renovations, which were completed in 2021. These renovations included energy-efficient electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades, washroom upgrades to improve accessibility, fire and life safety improvements, new lighting, flooring, and partition walls and functional multi-use spaces including a new art gallery, meeting rooms and storage spaces.
The arts and cultural centre fosters community connectedness that is inclusive, accessible, and affordable for all ages and social groups. The project also promotes economic development by ensuring artists have access to a modern space to advance business opportunities through the artist-in-residence program, present and sell their artwork through the art gallery and gift shop, and coordinate and lead programs and events.
“The Summerland Cultural Plan, which was completed in 2016, highlights the community’s values and cultural assets to shape Summerland’s identity and develop economic prosperity and social cohesion,” said Summerland mayor Toni Boot. “Council is proud of the work that has been done, which has also now been formally recognized by the Southern Interior Local Government Association for excellence in social responsibility.”
The renovation work cost just under $600,00. Money came from the municipality’s Capital Reserve Fund contribution, the Summerland Community Arts Council’s BC Gaming Grant and the Rick Hansen Foundation.
The Summerland Cultural Plan includes a recommendation to name a street or public space after George Ryga, a nationally acclaimed playwright who wrote most of his major works at his Summerland home, most notably The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. Council made the unanimous decision to name the renovated building the George Ryga Arts and Cultural Centre.
The building used for the cultural centre was constructed in 1981 as the Summerland branch of the Okanagan Regional Library. In 2016, the library moved into a newly constructed facility on Main Street and the community’s arts centre moved into the building on Wharton Street.
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