Renovation work has been completed at the George Ryga Arts and Cultural Centre in Summerland. The work at the building on Wharton Street cost just under $600,000. (Contributed)

Renovation work has been completed at the George Ryga Arts and Cultural Centre in Summerland. The work at the building on Wharton Street cost just under $600,000. (Contributed)

Summerland arts centre now has a new look and name

Facility has been named George Ryga Arts and Cultural Centre

Building renovations are now completed at the Summerland Community Arts Council building on Wharton Street.

On Oct. 21, the municipality of Summerland and the arts council hosted a celebration to announce the completion of the building renovations at 9525 Wharton St.

The building was originally the Summerland branch of the Okanagan Regional Library before it was used as a public space for arts and community activities.

The interior renovation included electrical, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, flooring, new partition walls and floor plan, as well as fire and life safety improvements and accessible washroom upgrades. The energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment will improve the district’s commitment to greenhouse gas reduction.

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The cost of the renovations was just under $600,000. 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 Community Arts Council and Art Gallery will be on the main floor of the renovated building. The second floor is a shared space that will offer arts and cultural programs and events, recreation programs and rental space administered through the Arts Council.

The building was named the George Ryga Arts and Cultural Centre just as the renovations were being completed. The nationally acclaimed playwright George Ryga wrote most of his major works at his Summerland home. The municipality’s 2016 Cultural Plan includes a recommendation to name a street or public space after George Ryga.

“Council knows the value of having a rich and varied arts and cultural community. Not only does this creative sector contribute to economic strength, but it also is an important part of a healthy community and provides yet another reason for people to be grateful to call Summerland home,” said Mayor Toni Boot. “The reopening of the newly-named George Ryga Arts and Cultural Centre has been a long time coming.”

During the renovation work, the arts centre operated out of a space at the lower level of municipal hall on Henry Street.

“We’re happy to be in our new home and we’re excited to continue as the voice of the arts in Summerland,” said Laurie Weir, vice president of the Summerland Community Arts Council.

Members of Ryga’s family also attended the celebration event.

“Blown away, thrilled, and grinning from ear-to-ear pretty much sums up the family’s reaction to the naming of the Arts Centre,” said Tanya Ryga. “Dad’s writing is respected around the world but it’s extra meaningful to honour him here in this way. Thank you, Summerland!”

The president of the Ryga Festival Society, Dan Dinsmore said, “On behalf of the Ryga Festival Society Board, I would like to thank our council for their foresight and to Coun. Doug Holmes who got this ball rolling six years ago. We look forward to collaborating with the Summerland Community Arts Council Board as these two community organizations work to bring arts and cultural experiences to Summerland.”

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