PRISMA Establishes an Arts Hub in Powell River’s Historic Townsite

Every June, the Pacific Region International Summer Music Association (PRISMA) presents a collection of classical music in coastal British Columbia during the PRISMA Festival, including multiple performances by the PRISMA Festival Orchestra led by notable conductor-at-large, Arthur Arnold.
Every June, the Pacific Region International Summer Music Association (PRISMA) presents a collection of classical music in coastal British Columbia during the PRISMA Festival, including multiple performances by the PRISMA Festival Orchestra led by notable conductor-at-large, Arthur Arnold. All photos courtesy of PRISMA.
The Shared Performing Arts and Cultural Hub Project addresses diverse user group demand with a dedicated space for the artistic community in qathet.

POWELL RIVER, 13 May 2024 – The Pacific Region International Summer Music Association (PRISMA) will build a performing arts and cultural hub within the Townsite Market building in Powell River. The arts hub strives to link the artistic community with economic development, tourism growth, and cultural engagement. It’s supported through a new project investment with Island Coastal Economic Trust.

This initiative will transform a 5,000-square-foot space into an arts hub with flexible performance, rehearsal, storage and office facilities. The light, airy atmosphere and post-and-beam aesthetics will help create an inviting venue highlighted by stunning ocean views.  An industrial kitchen, soundproofing and modern technology upgrades are also considered vital additions to repurposing the location into an event-ready space.

Once complete, the space will become an inclusive hub where diverse cultural practices are celebrated and incubated. It will serve as PRISMA’s permanent home for its operations; however, the space has attracted widespread community support. Eight additional community groups have confirmed their intent to utilize the space, including the Tla’amin First Nation, qathet Concert Band, qathet Symphony Orchestra. Private music instructors, festivals and practitioners of physical and culinary arts will also have a presence in the hub.

The arts hub is located overlooking the pulp and paper mill that once led the local economy. In recent times, Powell River has relied on tourism and arts to bolster its economy. Creating this venue as a hub inspired by social enterprise models will help grow the economic potential of Powell River’s cultural assets. The model will enhance visibility for tenants, which will attract visitors and residents to the townsite area. Beyond the 20 temporary jobs created during the construction phase, PRISMA expects the arts hub to create 3 permanent full-time jobs and 4 seasonal jobs, while also stimulating nearby businesses.

PRISMA has negotiated a 10-year lease for the space and construction is expected to begin in July 2024, with a targeted completion date in December 2025. Follow PRISMA’s website and social media for project updates.

Island Coastal Economic Trust is investing with PRISMA in the Shared Performing Arts and Cultural Hub project through the Capital and Innovation Program. The Trust will contribute $200,000 towards a total new investment in the region of $744,466. This investment is being made by the Trust with a focus on creating impact for Entrepreneurs and Local Businesses. More information about the project, including the project budget and wellbeing impacts, is available on the funded project page.

One of the PRISMA festival’s most popular events, PRISMA on the Beach draws thousands of locals and visitors to the shores of the Salish Sea.
PRISMA on the Beach features performances by the PRISMA Festival Orchestra, comprised of pre-professional musicians from around the world.

What Leaders are Saying

“I am extremely grateful for the support of ICET, which helps us to transform the dream of an Arts Hub into a reality. The support helps us realize PRISMA’s vision to create a new home for our festival and academy, and to extend our reach to support other arts organizations by providing them with a home base and rehearsal and storage spaces. Over a decade ago, PRISMA started in a basement, and now we are ready to help others the way we were helped. I look forward to the journey ahead, knowing that the entire community will benefit, including the Tla’amin Nation. May the new Arts Hub become a place where people connect and find inspiration, a place of creating and learning, and a place where bridges are built, and lives are enriched. May the Arts Hub cause a ripple effect that is beneficial for the entire community and region.” – Arthur Arnold, Artistic Director, PRISMA

“Our collaboration with the PRISMA Festival Orchestra is a testament to the harmonious potential of cross-cultural exchange through the arts—a journey that speaks to the heart of reconciliation. An Arts Hub at the Townsite Market offers an unprecedented opportunity to deepen connections, not just for the Tla’amin Nation but for the entire qathet region. PRISMA’s Arts Hub will be more than a venue; it will serve as a vessel for healing, and it will foster understanding and unity through cultural expression. This Arts Hub will catalyze the sharing of knowledge and skills between cultures, cultivating a richer, more diverse community. I am excited about the potential to expand our horizons and pave new paths for collaboration and understanding within the qathet region through this visionary undertaking.” – Drew Blaney, Culture and Heritage Manager, Tla’amin Nation

“The establishment of this performing arts and cultural hub is a significant milestone for Powell River. It not only revitalizes a historic building but also demonstrates our commitment to fostering creativity, cultural diversity, and economic growth in the qathet region.” – Nicholas Simons, MLA, Powell River – Sunshine Coast

“We are committed to invest in PRISMA as they lead this initiative, because this space will truly bolster Powell River’s already well-respected arts community that attracts people from around the world to their beautiful community. The widespread community support, which included commitments from eight different community groups, clearly illustrates both the need and promised success of this project.” – Aaron Stone, Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust.

About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $64 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted $337.5 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 3,001 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

Learn more about the Trust.

Media Contacts

Jeff Bartlett
Communications and Impact Manager
Island Coastal Economic Trust

Andy Rice
Development Director
Pacific Regional International Summer Music Association