Examining pandemic life, Kitscoty Hall president, Rick Evans, has high hopes for the longevity of the local gathering place and advises everyone to be patient until regulations are relaxed.
“We had a pretty substantial rainy day fund, but it’s been raining for a while,” said Evans.
“We did lose our major fundraiser and we will be without it again this year.”
The Kitscoty Community Dinner Theatre has been running for over 20 years and became the largest contributor of fundraising towards the hall.
Jeane Hunter, one of Dinner Theatre founders, said people would have to start thinking seriously about what they are going to do. Aside from being unable to host the play, another community favourite they are going without is the Craft Fair.
Some small funerals were hosted in between severe gathering restrictions, but their bookings for weddings had all been cancelled or rescheduled.
“A lot of people have been laid off, so we may not have our regular supporters,” said Hunter.
“The hall is s a non-profit organization just trying to keep the caretaker and utilities paid.”
Evans said in the meantime they are keeping their building heated, and they feel more secure than some of the older buildings in rural communities that are going a couple of years without use, which can potentially lead to a lot more damage.
“It’s not good — community halls all over are facing similar difficulty and small and distanced rentals are not the same thing,” said Evans.
“Right now, nobody knows when things will re-open. It is a little worrisome not knowing how long it will last, but patience is what we need. It won’t open suddenly, but gradually is the only thing I can see. Our asset is having a big space to hold big events so it will be one of the last things to come back.”
He said finding fundraising dollars is going to be tricky because every organization is in the same boat.
After nearly a year of CVODI, he said there is a limited amount of space for raffles and 50/50s, and most ideas have already been tried. At this point, he is taking a long-term approach and doesn’t want to plan too much so that people don’t get more frustrated and discouraged when it doesn’t work out.
Once restrictions open up he said there will be a lot of local things needing community support. In Kitscoty alone, there is the hall, a legion, a curling rink, and a hockey rink.
“Everyone has suffered in their own way, and all communities are the same as well across Alberta and Canada,” said Evans.
“Fundraising resources and disposable income will have a big strain. Arenas and minor hockey, etc. had it tough with the expense of getting started before the shut down. People will have to keep local community organizations in mind – they’ve had a tough year and when things do open up, hopefully they are all still around.”
He is hopeful for the community’s well-being as a whole, and that the couples who have booked weddings this summer will be able to go ahead with them – even if they are not as big as normal.
He said people may need to wait a while for big events, but he wants the community to be able to function with reduced numbers so that families who may need to host a funeral can continue to grieve the way they know how.
“I’m not imminently worried about the hall, but in the long term we are wondering how long will it take before people even feel comfortable doing things like that again. Once you get people healthy and back to work, these organizations may need some help,” said Evans.