Showplace Performance Centre in Peterborough is honouring a well-known city businesswoman by renaming its auditorium after her.
The Erica Cherney Theatre was unveiled on Thursday at the downtown venue. Cherney, a longtime community and arts advocate, died last August at the age of 84 after another bout with cancer.
When she first moved to Peterborough, she met Beth McMaster who had been campaigning for a downtown performance space.
They started the process which resulted in the opening of Showplace in 1996 on George Street.
“We were always talking about this place, or the possibility of this place,” said McMaster. “And we were both reading from the same page, because we felt it was important to the arts community but it was also important to Peterborough and especially to the downtown.”
It was McMaster who first approached the Cherney family to seek support for naming the auditorium.
“Beth approached us with an idea,” said Cherney’s son Michael.”She said ‘the board and I think there’s a wonderful way to honour your mom. It’s a win-win. You’re looking for causes to support, we want to honour your mom. What about naming the main auditorium at Showplace for her?”
“We believe mom is with us today, she is smiling, she is chuckling, she is blushing, ‘Oh come on, really?’ she is saying,” he added.
Showplace interim general manager Emily Martin says members are proud and honoured to be the home of a “lasting legacy to such an amazing force in the community.”
“The support, guidance and leadership that Erica showed, especially to the arts organizations of Peterborough, continues to be missed in her absence,” said Martin. “We’re working hard to make her proud of the work that we’re all doing and having her name here to remind us of the importance of that work is an exceptional honour.”
Peterborough City council also sees the importance of Showplace, recently proposing to increase its annual service grant to $137,181 — that’s a boost of $30,000 a year.
“It’s a private enterprise that performs at the level of a public service in many ways for this city,” said Mayor Daryl Bennett. “It’s special for us to be able to support it and support it for the right reasons.”
The naming of the Erica Cherney Theatre is the latest fundraising effort by Showplace to partner with businesses and individuals to support the arts in Peterborough.