OVOC Will Rebuild - Its Programs and Its Home
While they have been focused on rebuilding their concerts and musical, Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus will now also focus on rebuilding their main structure in Okanogan.
In the wee hours of Dec. 27, some OVOC board members were awakened by a call from the sheriff’s office informing them that their building had partially collapsed under the weight of the snow. Now the snow is melted and OVOC is planning for the complete rebuild of their facility - which they refer to as their home - to meet not only their own needs, but those of the community.
After a few years of cancellations, mitigations and masked performances with COVID, OVOC board members continue to adapt. The board had planned for major renovations to its home, and had recently replaced the roof. When the building came down, it took with it a few set pieces and yard sale items that had been stored for future activities. Most of the rest of the building’s contents were saved.
Since then, some gracious financial donors have stepped up. Others have offered their time and muscles to help organize and move. OVOC will need more help moving forward. Through the spring, the board will set some clean-up and moving days to completely vacate the structure in preparation for its total demolition.
Plans for rebuilding
Howard Zosel, owner of Z’s Engineering, has provided not only the plans for a new home building, but also has provided a steady bass voice in the chorus. In fact, Zosel is pretty sure he was in the very first OVOC concert featuring a choral piece in the early 1980s.
Zosel said he loves the format of OVOC - that professionals, semi-professionals and amateurs gather together and make music. The group looks differently now than it did in the beginning, but he said: “It’s been a wonderful journey to see all the changes.”
Of course, a big change will be the new home building. The facility was a warehouse and former service center added later…likely not permitted when it was remodeled in the 1960s. The entire structure has issues, which is why engineers recommended and insurance approved the total demolition and rebuild.
The vision now calls for a phased approach: Phase one will include office, meeting and storage space in a two-story portion of the building, with the shell of a gathering and rehearsal space that will not be able to be fully utilized yet. Phase one will cost about $600,000, just a bit more than insurance will cover. Phase two would finish the gathering space for up to 130 occupants for approximately an additional $200,000.
Another huge discussion, especially with Okanogan citizens, is what will be done for the mural on the side of the building that shockingly didn’t fall with the rest of the building. Zosel said he has a plan to preserve the wall and the mural that is “not super practical, but doable.” OVOC, after all, is all about preserving the arts - performing or otherwise.
The big challenge is to find work crews who are available during the next year who will give OVOC reasonable prices. Some companies have already offered to help by providing some things at cost or giving donations of labor or supplies.
How to Be a Friend
The upcoming OVOC musical “The Wind in the Willows” has a song and a theme the board also is relying on: “A Friend is Still A Friend.” In the show, it refers to showing up for friends even in tough circumstances, despite some pretty big challenges. OVOC will need its friends.
“OVOC has been through many challenges these past few years and I'm amazed how resilient and positive our OVOC family is,” Board President Cari Zachow said.
Through May, OVOC’s Second Act Shop at 21 N. Main St. in Omak has many wedding and prom dresses as well as other clothing, purses, hats, kids' toys and much more - with new items on the racks just about each week. It’s a way to buy local, buy inexpensively and support OVOC.
“The Second Act Shop is a win-win for OVOC and for the community,” said Susan Graves, Costume Mistress. “We hope to have a retail space in our new building by next year. The community has responded enthusiastically to a new place to browse and shop and we appreciate their support.”
The Wind in the Willows will run the first two weekends in May, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. The tickets were reduced in price this year to $10 for adults and anyone under 18 by donation - the goal is to build community connections and allow families to attend who might otherwise not be able to afford it. Donations will be taken for the building if any show-goers wish to contribute.
Other fundraisers and grant opportunities will be forthcoming as OVOC pursues its vision for the new facility.
Every ticket sale, every purchase at the shop, every donation gets OVOC that much closer to a new facility to serve the community. Anyone who wants to help can reach OVOC through the website - ovocmusic.org - Facebook, Instagram or by contacting a board member.
“Things are looking up,” Zachow said. “We have a musical for the first time in years, our orchestra and chorus membership is growing and we are able to rebuild the OVOC building. I am excited to see what the future holds.”