Telling the story of the Winspear Centre

Sidney’s cultural centre spreading the word to gain more supporters

Dance, music, theatre and art. These are just a few of the things that happen on a weekly basis at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney, but 2014 is also going to be about reconnecting with the community and increasing the prominence of the not-for-profit foundation that runs the Centre, said the facility’s executive director, Brad Edgett.

“I think a lot of people assume we’re part of the Town of Sidney, and therefore are funded by them, but the reality is that our livelihood comes from our not-for-profit foundation which provides over 70 per cent of our funding,” Edgett explained.

The Centre’s not-for-profit fundraising arm, the Sanscha Community Cultural Centre Foundation, was created in 1996 with the purpose of raising funds to build a new centre in place of the old Sanscha Hall.

The Winspear Centre was opened in 2001 and, as it is approaching its 14th year in use, Edgett said the foundation is looking to amass funds to keep the facility in good shape.

“It’s one of those things — people might not feel like the building is old yet but there are always things that need to be done to maintain a facility like this,” he said, noting that the Centre recently had a capital improvement study done which indicated what improvements were needed in what time frame.

“In the next 15 years as the facility moves into latter part of its life span we’re going to have to look at putting about $2.5 million into the facility to keep it up,” he said.

Things like a new roof and a new HVAC system for the building are more immediate needs for the facility and Edgett also added the foundation hopes to set up an endowment fund in the future as well.

“To accomplish this we’re really going to have to get our story out there, let people know who we are and what we do in the community. We bring around $6.5 million into the community every year. We want to get people plugged in to what we do and what economic and socio-economic benefits we provide to the Saanich Peninsula. We can’t expect people to donate to the foundation and support the events we hold if they don’t know what we are all about.”

To that end, the Centre is launching a re-branded version of their website in hopes of offering people a better understanding of what they do.

“It will be a cleaner design, much easier to navigate and we hope it will also tell our story,” said the Centre’s administrative assistant, Carey Salvador.

Edgett and Salvador have been part of the team to ensure the Centre has packed their schedule with shows that will appeal to wide range of audiences in hopes of offering something for everyone.

“We have some great events coming up including the Family Day events, Palm Court Light Orchestra, Jeanne Robertson and Ben Heppner. It’s going to be a busy spring and summer,” said Salvador, adding that the facility is already booked almost every weekend through June, July and August for weddings as well as the both the Parkland and Pacific Christian dry grad celebrations.

“We’re also working on offering concerts every second Thursday night in the summer to line up with the market nights,” said Edgett.

“We want to make the most of having the captive audience in Sidney.”


Upcoming events

• 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony celebration on Friday, Feb. 7 at 8 a.m.

• Free Family Day open house on Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lego building, colouring, photo booth activities, Lego demonstration by Robin Sather. Booths from Panorama Rec Centre, the Sidney BIA, the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre and more.

• The Winspear Youth Choir, begins in February. Classes run to June for children seven to 17.

• Jeanne Robertson, a professional speaker and comedian performs Monday, March 3 at 7 p.m.

• An Evening with Ben Heppner on March 21 at 7:30 p.m.

• Comedian, musician, radio personality Lorne Elliott March 31 at 8 p.m.

• The First Nations, Metis and Inuit Art Show and Sale will run for a whole month this year from June to July.