Alberta budget includes nearly $13M to further expand Edmonton’s Winspear Centre

Click to play video: 'Alberta government gives $12.8M to Winspear Centre expansion'
Alberta government gives $12.8M to Winspear Centre expansion
Five years after an expansion of the Winspear Centre first began, we're getting a look inside the renovations of the Edmonton music hall. There was some bad timing when it came to construction during the pandemic, as it led to significant delays and massive cost overruns. But now the project is in the final stretch. Jaclyn Kucey gives a sneak peek. – Mar 12, 2024

The Winspear Centre in downtown Edmonton is getting a funding boost to help with its ongoing expansion project.

Alberta’s 2024 budget, if passed, dedicates $12.8-million over three years, beginning next year, to Phase 3 of the performing arts centre’s expansion project.

Phase 3 completes the 550-seat acoustic performance venue called the Music Box, and adds community gathering spaces, music studios and classrooms.

“We are moving closer to completing our dream of building a centre where everyone can gather downtown to share, learn and enjoy music,” Annemarie Petrov, president and CEO of the Winspear Centre, said in a news release.

“Music is at the heart of how we, as humans, express ourselves. The new Winspear will be a place where anyone can come to ignite their creative spirit, and the province’s added contribution will truly make a difference.”

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Petrov explained that the COVID-19 pandemic posed “serious challenges” for the completion of the Winspear project, which was announced back in 2019.

“We were well in construction,” she explained, adding the pandemic “left us with a significant gap in funding.

“With this new support from the province for this Phase 3, and the unwavering support of our donors and community, we’re building momentum to enter the final stages of our expanded Winspear.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Symphony Orchestra celebrates iconic composer George Gershwin'
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra celebrates iconic composer George Gershwin

The Winspear Centre opened on the corner of 99th Street and 102nd Avenue in 1997. It is home to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Tommy Banks Centre for Musical Creativity, and hosts numerous concerts and community events each year.

“We founded 5 Artists 1 Love 18 years ago to represent Black musicians and artists in Edmonton’s arts scene and take up space by performing in places where we felt we didn’t belong,” said Darren Jordan, founder of 5 Artists 1 Love.

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“For a world-renowned venue like the Winspear to build a centre that opens doors for all communities and all cultures is so important, because creating an inclusive space begins with representation.”

The enhancement project is anticipated to create more than 240 construction jobs and 113 post-construction jobs, according to the Alberta government.

The Winspear Centre said 41 per cent of visitors come from outside of Edmonton. Once complete, the centre is expected to generate $4.5-million in economic impact in the first year.

“Winspear Centre is a treasured arts and culture hub that provides Albertans and visitors with world-class arts experiences while fostering a sense of community,” Arts, Culture and Status of Women Minister Tanya Fir said in a news release.

“By supporting this transformational project, Alberta’s government is building a more vibrant arts scene in Edmonton, creating jobs and increasing access to arts for Albertans from every walk of life.”

The added space will allow the Winspear Centre to grow its educational programming to include 50 per cent more learners, for a total of 50,000 Albertans each year.

Petrov said the centre is aiming for construction to be complete in 2025, but added that timeline depends on other levels of government and other financial contributions.

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