Ontario government announces $26.2 million for Brock’s downtown fine arts complex

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Ontario government announces $26.2 million for Brock’s downtown fine arts complex

Published on April 28 2010

Brock University’s planned fine arts campus in downtown St. Catharines is now clear to proceed, after the Government of Ontario today announced $26.2 million in funding for the major project.

St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley announced the funding this morning at a public event held beside the abandoned textile factory that will be transformed into the new home of Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. The province will provide the funding over four years.

The funding is a major breakthrough for both the University and the community. The new Marilyn I. Walker School will provide state-of-the-art facilities for more than 500 full-time students and faculty, freeing up much needed space for other programs at Brock’s main campus in south St. Catharines.

But the downtown fine arts campus is also being built in partnership with the City of St Catharines, which will build a civic Niagara Centre for the Arts on the other half of the downtown site. With the provincial funding now secured, Brock will fund-raise approximately $20 million to pay for its part of the Walker campus.

“This is an incredible day for Brock,” said University President Jack Lightstone, “a day we have been working toward for a long time, with unceasing commitment and help from Jim Bradley. This is much more than wonderful news for a university that desperately needs more space. This investment in post-secondary education by the Government of Ontario will help change the lives of thousands of students whose knowledge and careers will be greatly enhanced by vastly improved educational facilities.”

Bradley said the investment is part of the McGuinty government’s Open Ontario plan to generate opportunities for jobs and economic growth.

“The new five-year Open Ontario plan is about creating jobs and growth,” said Bradley. “Our investment in Brock University will help support St. Catharines’ vibrant arts community, attract more people downtown, and generate economic development for the entire Niagara region.”

Rosemary Hale, Dean of Humanities at Brock, said the new downtown Walker campus will mean a dedicated theatre, rehearsal, teaching and research studios for students.

“Talent needs purpose-built space in order to flourish,” she said, “and now our talent will have it.”

“The Centre for the Arts built in conjunction with a new location for the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts will be the cornerstone of a downtown revitalization of our core,” said St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan. “By building on the growing cultural sector this project will attract new business and investments diversifying our local economy and building future prosperity.”