September 18 marked the grand opening of Brock’s new downtown arts campus, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. University officials, students, faculty, and members of the community gathered under a large tent on the front lawn on Friday for the ceremonial opening of the campus. Many speakers attended the grand opening including Brock President, Jack Lightstone, Mayor of St. Catharines, Walter Sendzick, and, on behalf of Marilyn Walker, Norris Walker, her husband.
The massive undertaking, of what is now known as 15 Artist’s Way began on May 31, 2013 with the site’s official ground breaking.
“Marilyn and I are excited to have played a small part in this endeavour,” said Norris Walker said, speaking at the event.
The 45 million dollar project has been both open to students and housing classes for the Dramatic Arts, Visual Arts, and Music Departments since Sept. 9. 500 Brock students now call the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) their primary campus.
Specialization is key to the new school, with 95,000 square feet of extremely specialized and well-equipped creative spaces, offices and classrooms. Among the most-notable features of the school is a large scale ‘green room’, both digital and analog photography labs, a fully-customizable theatre, and high-tech practice rooms for music students.
The response from students has been overwhelmingly positive, and the addition of the new school has attracted attention from many outside of the Niagara Region. Even Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne addressed the opening of the new school on her Twitter account.
However, the event wasn’t all speeches and dignitaries. Following the official opening, there were bands, a cabaret entitled DART-O-RAMA, and musical performances from both students and alumni in order to celebrate the historic moment in Brock’s history.
With a week and a half under its belt, the MIWSFPA looks to be a crowning jewel in Brock and St. Catharines’ missions to promote growth within the artistic community.
What do the students have to say about MIWSFPA?
“I’m thrilled with our new space downtown, every detail about this building so carefully caters to our needs as music students. Our practice studios are incredible, our lecture halls are spacious and the whole facility is so beautiful. To be given such a space in which to work and study is so encouraging for us and it’s definitely an exciting time to be an arts student.”
-Grace Snippe, Fourth-year Music student
“The Marilyn I. Walker School is not only gorgeous, but welcoming. As an alumnus, I have been made to feel that the facilities are as open to me and my colleagues as they are for the current students. This gives great hope to future artistry and is encouraging future graduates to stay in St. Catharines and develop their work. This is what helps build successful communities, economies and societies: localized artistry committed to the region.”
-Colin Glavac, Dramatic Arts alumnus