The Kelowna Rotary Centre for the Arts. (Contributed)

The Kelowna Rotary Centre for the Arts. (Contributed)

After a turbulent year, an exciting return to live arts and culture in Kelowna

A year in review from the Rotary Centre for the Arts

Tyler Morgenstern,

marketing and communications coordinator for the Rotary Centre for the Arts

Even in a typical year, working in live arts and culture can be a challenge. Budgets and timelines are tight, and even something as simple as bad weather can bring an event months in the making to a screeching halt. Add a pandemic to the mix, and things get very interesting, indeed.

Like many arts and culture organizations in B.C. and across Canada, the Rotary Centre for the Arts has spent the last 12 months adapting to an ever-changing mix of capacity regulations and public health orders.

It has not been an easy task.

Statistics Canada estimates that operating revenues in the arts and culture sector have contracted 61 per cent nationally since the beginning of 2020. The RCA is no exception to this rule.

Unable to ticket events to full capacity and confronted with a sharp decline in venue rentals, the RCA saw its revenues shrink by about 64 per cent over the same period – a tough pill to swallow for any charitable non-profit.

But the story of this past year isn’t all trial and tribulation. Thanks to recent changes to live event regulations, our theatre is once again full of excited audiences, our studios are buzzing with creative energy, and our halls are decked not only with Christmas garlands but with outstanding original works by several Okanagan artists.

2021 saw the return of live performance to our 326-seat Mary Irwin Theatre, and with it came some truly special moments. In mid-October, we welcomed local bluegrass band Under the Rocks for a long-delayed album release show. Before a sell-out crowd, this blisteringly talented four-piece showed why they’ve become one of the region’s most buzzed-about live acts.

Our community programs also sprang back to life in 2021. Now in its 10th year, our weekly Jazz Jam continues to delight our patrons with free live music, while providing aspiring musicians with invaluable mentorship opportunities and performance experience.

The real story here, of course, is our patrons. For nearly two years, arts lovers have patiently navigated a choppy sea of delays and cancellations. After all this confusion, it has been deeply heartening to watch patrons return with enthusiasm, ready to support the artists, performers, and workers who keep Kelowna’s vibrant cultural scene running.

With 2022 approaching, the RCA is ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

We invite you all to join us as we embark upon another two decades of community-based creativity. To learn more, visit

OkanaganYear in Review