Let’s support the arts for a change

Resident makes the pitch for cultural amenities over sports

It is interesting that in the same paper, the editor commented on how the taxpayers of Vernon are stuck with a bill of $8.5 million for a race track that is used by a disproportionately small group of athletic enthusiasts because nobody turned out to vote for a referendum on it; and a letter in support of spending another greater fortune on an indoor gymnastics venue.

The letter writer is obviously a booster for the North Valley Gymnastics Society, who would put the taxpayers of Vernon on the hook for an indoor facility which includes “proper equipment and a full-size spring floor,” noting that Nelson has “a trampoline and tumbling facility,” while Smithers has a “fully equipped gymnastics club,” as does Terrace and Penticton.

She indicates that her very own children are “facing this same disadvantage of not having a proper gymnastics facility.” Poor dears.

Perhaps Robin Nanji needs to consider that the City of Vernon has coughed up a fortune of taxpayers money for every facet of adult and children’s sports in the area, from skiing to hockey to baseball and more, much in the interest of generating local money.

There is even talk of renovating the broken-down city arena for hockey practices and refurbishing the old race track for horse racing events.

Enough! How much will it take to satisfy the needs of the athletic interests in our city? Perhaps it is time for the business community to step forward to do the job for a profit instead.

What is left out of this equation is what has been lacking in the financing of the arts community in Vernon.

Our main art gallery is housed in a cranky, old car parkade. A disgrace to the educated cultural sensibilities of discriminating tourists and citizens everywhere.

Why do we have to breathe car emissions to enjoy the best of the art that we have to offer here in Vernon?

Why does the VAG have to choose between a parkade and a couple of shipping containers to house contemporary prints and other artistic works and an architecturally-significant building that would house destination-worthy exhibitions for our visitors to enjoy?

Why is there talk of expanding sports facilities in favour of cultural facilities, when there is a clear need for venues for our local artists who would generate actual revenue for our community?

The Okanagan Valley has a rich legacy of practicing and retired artists who need to make a living.

That is where the money is for everyone, locals and tourists alike. Culture generates revenues for the community as an anchor-point for transient destination attractions.

Sports leaves statistics as a legacy, culture leaves history as a legacy. The rest is carbon dioxide.

Which side are you on?

The taxpayers or the athletes?

Mike Sturdy

Vernon