Over the last 30 years, I have done community development work with dozens of community organizations in many different communities throughout B.C.
I have worked with social, legal, cultural, housing, sports and educational organizations. I also spent almost a year doing community development work with non-profits in Ukraine.
There is one universal truth that I have learned over the 30 years doing community development work: that communities and organizations that work together towards a common goal can accomplish much more, and often at a much lower cost, than those that go it alone.
Like most universal truths, this one is pretty much a no-brainer. However, there is something else that happens when organizations work together, that is also described by a universal truth: the whole becomes greater than the sum of its individual parts.
There is a synergy that happens when groups of people work together towards a common goal. They build momentum, share ideas and often come up with new and unusual solutions to problems.
I have lived in Vernon for the last 16 years, and have been involved in developing projects with both the Greater Vernon Museum and the Vernon Public Art Gallery. I served as acting executive director for the art gallery for a period of seven months while it was restructuring.
I also facilitated a strategic planning process for the Caetani Arts Centre. I have been involved to a lesser extent with the Vernon Community Arts Centre, having taken classes and my daughter having taught there on occasion.
While I was with the public art gallery, we had discussions with the museum about the possibilities of the art gallery moving into the library space and expanding the buildings together to meet joint needs. While this didn’t happen, as the city took over the library space, I still believe there is great merit in the public art gallery, museum and potentially the arts centre working together on a capital building project.
There is quite a bit of overlap of needs with the museum, public art gallery and arts centre.
All have somewhat similar needs in regards to exhibition space, maintenance, environmental controls, general and archival storage, lighting, cleaning, education, public outreach, events, advertising, accounting local fundraising and gift shop. Many of their community members and volunteers are involved with more than one of these organizations.
I think I speak for many in the community when I say that although I support arts and culture in Vernon, I would not be able to support any financial initiative that did not involve these groups working together towards a common building project. I would also like to see any future building project also look at including possible affordable housing and studio space for young and/or emerging artists.
I truly believe that if these organizations worked together to develop a shared facility, this would not only benefit the community, but each of the organizations themselves. I also know that there are many more grants and financial opportunities for groups that work in partnership, which could help ease the demand on our local taxpayers.