A messy situation in Edgewater looks like it may well be coming to a head.
The Edgewater Music Society (EMS), a group of roughly 30 members, has been using the Edgewater Community Hall for about 11 years to put on a variety of performances ranging from musical acts to plays.
Over the years, the group has brought in a significant amount of their own personal equipment to help aid the quality of their shows. The equipment in question includes remote lighting, a projector screen, curtains and a piano, among other things.
In late February, EMS chairman Barry Moore says he received what he called an eviction notice from the Edgewater Recreation Society (ERS).
The notice asked the group to remove all personal property from the community hall by April 1.
“We want to implore them to allow us to remain,” Moore said. “We don’t understand why they would want to knock us out of there.”
Moore also feels that his group was not included in the decision-making process, and that the ERS hasn’t communicated the reasons behind their decision to the EMS.
However, ERS president Tammy Tutte says that the notice to remove their equipment should come as no surprise, and says that there has been communication, “plenty of times.”
“All the equipment in the hall are personal belongings… they don’t belong to the community hall, and they don’t belong to the community,” Tutte said. “So we’re not evicting the music society, we’re asking them to remove personal belongings. The concern is liability — if anything were to happen, who is going to pay for it? It’s come to a point that we can’t risk taxpayers’ money on personal belongings.”
For his part, Moore says that without that privately-funded equipment, the ERS is unlikely to be able to put on as many, or as high quality of shows. Specifically, he noted a recently announced performance by pianist Louise Rose that will be unable to move forward without the aforementioned piano.
“Without that gear, that is not a performance venue that will attract performers,” Moore said.
“Traditionally, the hall is a place for music in the valley, and it’s been the one venue that has worked consistently and produced a good program of wide-ranging events for 11 years… the hall, when it has music, just comes to life. We have to have our stuff in there, without it we find it impossible (to put on shows).”
At the moment, there haven’t been any serious talks about turning the equipment over to the community so that the liability issue could be waived, according to Moore, although he says that’s what he eventually would like to see happen.
He says there was a bit of a campaign in previous years to raise funds for Edgewater to buy the piano specifically, but that it had never managed to get off the ground.
“That’s really what I would like, is for that to become property of the Columbia Valley Arts Council,” Moore said. “This shutdown is really contrary to good economic policy.”
Tutte calls it a “disappointing” situation, but says the group is welcome to continue using the facility.
“It’s not the music society that we’re evicting, we’re just asking them to remove personal property,” Tutte said. “They will still have full access to the hall and can use it whenever they want.”