Piano campaign hits halfway mark

New website part of Dave Dunnet Community Theatre promotion

Joseph Blake is confident the goal of a concert piano for the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High is within reach half-way through the planned fundraising campaign.

Joseph Blake is confident the goal of a concert piano for the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High is within reach half-way through the planned fundraising campaign.

A bid to raise the cash for a classy instrument in the 420-seat, state-of-the-art Dave Dunnet Community Theatre enters a final push as it approaches the halfway mark. The theatre at Oak Bay High is already in heavy rotation as a venue in Greater Victoria, with many expecting a concert piano in a theatre of that size and scope. Following on that belief, Oak Bay High School Alumni Association, Oak Bay Rotary Foundation, Oak Bay High School, Greater Victoria School District and District of Oak Bay joined forces to create Oak Bay Concert Piano Committee. Jan Hemming of the alumni association can’t hide her excitement about the theatre itself.

“It’s intimate but it’s got presence,” Hemming said.

The year-long campaign Keys to our Success kicked off last September with Pianorama in hopes of raising roughly $100,000 to purchase an appropriate concert piano. Surplus funds would go toward the school’s fine arts programs. The campaign is around $25,000 so far. Campaign members are pleased with that mark, despite being halfway through the campaign. “I think we’re going to do better than that,” said Joseph Blake, Community Association of Oak Bay member. During a Lower Mainland conference on fundraising, Blake and Hemming heard again and again that fundraising often comes down to that one individual.

“It’s all about relationships and we’re working on it,” Blake said. “The word got out and people have sent donations. We’re looking for that one person.”

A chunk of the funds comes from the 100 theatre seat sponsorships of $450 – with plenty remaining for donors. For Blake, the good continues to sprout from the Sno’uyutth (spreading good energy) project.

The community association commissioned Sno’uyutth, an aboriginal welcome pole outside the school – in a process that brought together several groups, from Rotary to the school board. Funds raised beyond those required for the pole, form a scholarship. It was at the event where those where handed out, that conversation about a piano arose.

“Sno’uyutth is the magic word, the piano actually grew out of that and stuff’s going to grow out of the piano,” Blake said. He builds on his Pianoramaevent that launched the campaign, crafting a May concert fundraiser in the theatre. “I couldn’t get a date in April because the Dave Dunnet theatre is booked,” said Blake, who couldn’t resist adding “and most people think it comes with a piano.” By the time the May 5 event rolls around, they plan to have a dedicated website in place, Hemming said.

They expect it would list coming events, outline specs for producers planning an event and offer ticket sales, similar to the site promoting the Charlie White Theatre in Sidney. Oak Bay Rotary Foundation provides charitable receipts. Cheques should be payable to Oak Bay Rotary Foundation and delivered to Oak Bay High School, 2121 Cadboro Bay Rd. or Oak Bay Rotary Foundation at #210-2187 Oak Bay Avenue, Victoria, BC V8R 1G1. “Once we’ve got it established, we’re going to reach beyond,” Hemming said. “We start looking at how we can do the same at the middle school, and the elementary school, so they have an opportunity. It’s a neat legacy.”

For more information call 250-595-1500 or email secretary@oakbayrotaryfoundation.org.