Edmonton’s Winspear searching for $13M from Alberta government to expand

Edmonton’s Winspear Centre looks for funding for work on facility
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton's Winspear Centre is a world-renowned concert hall. Twenty years ago, plans for the facility included space at the back for additional programs. As Kent Morrison reports, the Winspear now says it's time to finish what it started.

Edmonton’s Winspear Centre is looking to the provincial government to help fund a $53-million dollar project for training, education and programming spaces.

Instead of calling it an expansion project, the Winspear says this is a completion project that would add an education wing on the back where a parking lot currently sits, as well as a small hall that would seat 500 to 600 people.

“It was actually a part of the original plan when the community came together to build the Winspear,” Director of Musical Creativity Alison Kenny-Gardhouse said. “We’re really working towards the realization of that dream and completing the original plan.”

The plan is to receive $13 million in funding each from the municipal, provincial and federal governments. When that is secured, an additional $14 million would need to be fundraised from the public.

The City of Edmonton has already committed $13 million. The next step is to receive funding from the provincial government.

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“We know there is a lot of support for our project and now I guess the question is whether or not it is included in the upcoming budget announcement,” Executive Director of the Winspear Centre Annemarie Petrov said.

READ MORE: Alberta NDP to table 2017 budget on March 16

“It’s the community that built this hall, which is so spectacular,” said Petrov. “What’s missing is an ability to build on the concert experience with other ways to engage in music.”

The Winspear said it has been limited in the number of programs it can offer the public due to space constraints and competing demands on the space it does have.

Currently, the centre offers after-school programs, education concerts and family concerts.

A pilot project called Music Box Babies, a music and brain development class that helps kids with socialization and gross and fine motor skills, was also just completed.

Those with the Winspear said they would like to see the program continue on a weekly basis but they just don’t have the space to do it.

WATCH MORE: Pilot program pairs professional Edmonton musicians with those living with Parkinson’s

“We are bursting at our seams,” said Kenny-Gardhouse.

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The group is very hopeful the funding will come through in the spring budget, but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean they’ll stop working to expand music education in Edmonton.

“We’re not just about bricks and mortar,” Kenny-Gardhouse said. “It’s about the whole concept of reaching a broader community.”

In a statement, the Culture and Tourism ministry told Global News that “the province has a number of important, yet competing priorities that we are trying to meet in the current economic climate.”

The budget will be released on March 16th.

With files from Kent Morrison