A new arts facility donated by a prominent local philanthropic family held an official opening on Monday.
The ribbon was cut on Kelson Hall, which transformed the former Telus annex building into rehearsal, performance and office space for the Kamloops Symphony and Western Canada Theatre.
The facility at 330 St. Paul St. was donated to the City of Kamloops by Ron and Rae Fawcett.
“Rae and I are delighted to be able to provide this building,” Ron Fawcett said.
“We have been dedicated to furthering the performing arts in Kamloops for many years. … The thanks we get will be the citizens of Kamloops enjoying and prospering in the use of this fine facility.”
Fawcett, who has been a major proponent behind recent attempts to establish a performing arts centre in Kamloops, called the opening “only the first step.” He initially purchased the Telus annex building with plans to turn it into performance space adjacent to a planned performing arts centre at the site of the former Kamloops Daily News building at Fourth Avenue and Seymour Street.
That effort stalled early in 2020 when a planned referendum was scrapped due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kelson Hall features offices and functional spaces for performance and rehearsal, including the 1,900-square-foot Lori Marchand Theatre, which seats 134 people, and the 1,800-square-foot Bruce Dunn Hall.
Marchand is the former manager of WCT and Dunn served as the KSO’s musical director until he retired in 2017.
“Ron and Rae Fawcett are visionary community builders and supporters of the arts,” City of Kamloops social development and cultural manager Barb Berger said in a news release.
“It has been a privilege to watch this amazing transformation from the former Telus annex to Kelson Hall, and the collaboration that Ron undertook with both the Kamloops Symphony and Western Canada Theatre to create this wonderful cultural asset.”
The city said the plan is for the facility to welcome a variety of community arts groups and organizations once a booking system has been established.