In the Media

  • Vivian named director of Brock arts school

    (Source: Niagara Falls Review, Wednesday, May 11, 2016 | By John Law)

    The new director of Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts enjoys a “pinch me” moment every now and then.

    When David Vivian arrived in Niagara in 2004, culture was struggling and downtown St. Catharines felt stagnant. Now, both are generating national attention. “It’s a fantastic progression since 2004,” he says. “I can’t believe that we have both a new (Marilyn I. Walker) school facility and new performing arts centre downtown here.

    “That’s a huge jump in capacity for this city, to both hear the stories of others and to tell its own stories.”

    Vivian, currently chairman of Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts, begins a three-year term at the school July 1. The school opened in its new downtown location last September in a former 19th century textile factory at 15 Artists’ Common. With about 500 students, the $45 million building houses Brock’s visual arts, music, drama and culture programs.

    Vivian replaces Derek Knight, who helped oversee the new school’s construction and implementation through its first year of classes. Knight will be taking a oneyear sabbatical from Brock. With the building’s first year winding down, Vivian says there’s a “great foundation” to build on in Year Two.

    “We’ve got some excellent, first rate programs,” he says. “First on my list is to communicate these opportunities to future students here in the Niagara region, the GTA and internationally.”

    He will also strengthen the already crucial link with the nearby FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, and increase the school’s role in the evolving downtown.

    “It’s about finding the right place for the school in the heart of the city,” he says. “We understand ourselves to be part of a larger project of the downtown revitalization. We’re all terribly proud of St. Catharines.”

    Vivian was recognized with the Humanities Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2009, and recognized by the city, province and country for his work as chairman of the St. Catharines Culture Committee in 2011. He studied art and art history at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, and has an MA in fine arts from the University of British Columbia.

    Vivian is eager to import new students to help become the “cultural fabric” of the region.

    But he also wants to keep the school part of the Brock community, despite the space between them now.

    “We have a lot of relationship building to do with the rest of the university,” he says. “Bringing us from the main campus has broken an immediacy and a knowledge of each other.”

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    Categories: In the Media, News

  • Brock prof gets funding for project profiling women animal rights activists

    (Source: The Brock News, Monday, March 7, 2016 | by )

    While researching the history of animal rights, Brock visual arts professor Keri Cronin realized that women did much of the advocacy work in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    She also noticed that, quite often, there was little information about these women. For example, it was common for a woman’s first name to be omitted from the record, with only her married name – Mrs. Smith, for example – being listed.

    That got Cronin and her friend, award-winning photographer Jo-Anne McArthur, thinking.

    “What we’ve noticed again and again is that it’s always women on the ground, raising the money, holding the bake sales, protesting, and it’s usually men at the head of the organizations,” says Cronin. “This is true today and obviously in the 19th century, too.”

    “We thought, ‘all these women are doing amazing work and they’re not getting credit, they’re not being celebrated.’ We want to change that.”

    So Cronin and McArthur created The Unbound Project: Women on the Front Lines of Animal Advocacy, to “recognize and celebrate women at the forefront of animal advocacy, in both a contemporary and historical context.”

    To help make it happen, the UK-based cosmetics company Lush recently granted the pair $20,000 from the company’s North American Charitable Giving Program. Cronin and McArthur have also received funding from the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, the Culture & Animals Foundation, and A Well-Fed World.

    To put together the multi-media and book project, Cronin and McArthur are travelling around the world interviewing, photographing and filming some 200 women in a wide range of professions and walks of life.

    We want to talk about how people in all kinds of careers are making a difference and that activism doesn’t just take one form.

    British primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, with a long history of conducting pioneering chimpanzee research in Tanzania, is among the higher-profile women being featured.

    But Cronin and McArthur’s main focus is on “local grassroots women, unsung heroes who make the world a kinder, gentler place for animals,” says Cronin.

    “When people think of activism, they imagine a certain thing: they imagine someone out there protesting or chaining themselves to a fence,” says Cronin. “We actually want to change a bit of that story. We want to talk about how people in all kinds of careers are making a difference and that activism doesn’t just take one form.”

    Unbound has its roots in a long-term project, We Animals, that McArthur created to expose animal abuses around the world. As she did this, McArthur came across women working passionately and unceasingly to end such cruelty.

    “Sharing stories of inspiration and change not only gets people excited about taking part but gives them hope, something to hold onto, whereas my work on the brutal treatment of animals and factory farming can leave someone with a sense of paralysis,” says McArthur.

    “This project about women is going to do the opposite: it’s going to say, ‘here’s the problem, here are the wonderful people working on this problem, here’s how you can do this kind of thing as well.’”

    The duo is into the second year of their project, having already traveled to several continents and connecting with networks in North America and abroad.

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    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News

  • MIWSFPA awarded for its architecture

    miwsfpa-award-1050x658(Source: The Brock NewsWednesday, March 9, 2016 | by )

    Brock University students and staff aren’t the only ones who love the look and feel of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Niagara Region recognized the school with an Adaptive Re-Use Award during the 2015 Niagara Community Design Awards on Friday.

    The MIWSFPA was completed in 2015, a $45.5-million redevelopment of the former Canada Hair Cloth Building, an iconic structure in downtown St. Catharines which has been transformed and expanded to include a 35,000-square-foot addition.

    “It is arguably one of the most beautifully designed buildings that captures the heritage of what it once was,” said St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik. “It’s the juxtaposition between the modern and the heritage combined in one footprint.”

    The facility is the result of nearly a decade of hard work and commitment from hundreds of people.

    “The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is a legacy project and demonstrates the transformative capacity of imaginative approaches to architecture in the service of post-secondary education,” said MIWSFPA director Derek Knight. “Such commitment is a demonstration of the value the University places in conserving both the fabric of a magisterial 19th-century industrial structure and repurposing it as part of the revitalization of our core city.”

    The building wouldn’t have been possible without a $26.1-million investment from the Government of Ontario, and numerous corporate and private donors.

    Designed by the renowned Toronto firm Diamond Schmitt Architects and built by Bird Construction, the project was a joint venture with the City of St. Catharines to create a multi-use arts complex to connect the talent of Brock students with the needs of the community. The result is a 95,000-square-foot education facility showcasing the history of the original space combined with modern architecture and learning technology.

    University President Jack Lightstone said the MIWSFPA has been a huge hit with students and faculty.

    “This amazing downtown school happened because committed and generous people made it happen. As a result, we have all witnessed a dramatic change in our downtown core that is like very few transitions we will ever again see in our lifetimes,” Lightstone said.

    “For Brock, it provides another purpose-built facility serving the very specialized needs of the University and for Niagara, it is a landmark of what a university and a city government can achieve in close working partnership.”

    The Region said the project was noted for its integration with the community from its name to the linkages with the nearby performing arts centre, as well as creating a new landmark within the city and blending heritage elements with new construction.

    The school is named for the late Marilyn I. Walker, a fabric artist, Brock supporter and St. Catharines arts advocate.

    “The award reflects the vision of Marilyn I. Walker, Jack Lightstone and Dr. Rosemary Hale,” Sendzik said. “It acts as a catalysit for where we are going as a community.”
    He said the blend of old and new celebrates St. Catharines manufacturing history and its future as an arts and culture hub.

    “Brock University has made an extraordinary commitment to the next generations of students; not only is this important for sustaining our own community but for the vitality and interest this will generate beyond the Niagara Region,” Knight said.

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  • Brock Professor is the new theatre critic for the Toronto Star

    (Source: The Brock NewsThursday, March 3, 2016 | by )

    Professor Karen Fricker has spent the last three years training Brock University students to critique theatre.

    She will soon be practising what she teaches after landing the role of theatre critic for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest, most-read newspaper.

    The Brock University Dramatic Arts assistant professor isn’t new to the theatre beat – her resume includes 25 years of experience for outlets including The Guardian and Variety. She was also the founding editor-in-chief of Irish Theatre Magazine, a publication that operated from 1998-2014.

    At the Star, Fricker will be reviewing major show openings in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas as well as writing feature articles.

    “It just feels like an un-dreamed-of privilege to get to have a platform like this at this point in my career,” she says. “Toronto is a really exciting and mature theatre market.”

    The theatre scene in the GTHA is rich with plenty of interesting things happening – from major musicals to performance art to original Canadian plays in storefront theatres.

    Fricker can’t wait to see them all and share her observations and critiques with Canadians.

    And, she’s looking forward to sharing her excitement with students, whose critiques are published  on Brock’s DARTcritics.com blog. She started the blog in 2013 to offer students an avenue to be published and edited.

    She plans to make sure her students benefit from the work she’s doing for the Star.

    “Students will gain a strong sense of connection and understanding of how professional arts criticism works,” she says.
    “They will have the opportunity to see their professor go through the same exercises they do and maybe even give her some feedback.”

    Fricker says she’s grateful to be working at Brock both because it’s an exciting time in the arts with the opening of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and because it’s a university that encourages professors to pursue their creative interests.

    “Being a creator, being an artist, has equal standing to being a scholar and producing peer-reviewed research,” she says.

    Fricker says the Star opportunity fits her creative and research interests of questioning arts criticism in the digital age.

    “I consider this a part of my research,” she says. “It’s a time of extraordinary possibility and growth for criticism.”

    DARTcritics.com is a response to that research interest and the question of how to turn an earnest blog into trusted criticism. The site has grown from a space for outstanding reviews by third-year students as part of their coursework to include reviews and features by students and recent graduates who are paid for their work. Fricker hopes that the site will continue to blossom into a year-round source of quality arts criticism in Niagara.

    Fricker’s role with the Star was announced Thursday. She’s looking forward to reviewing her first production for the paper this month.

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    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News

  • Brock instructor’s work one of Time’s top 10 magazine covers of the year

    (Source: The Brock NewsThursday, December 10, 2015 | by )

    Time Magazine has recognized the photographic work of Brock University visual arts instructor Amy Friend. A photograph created by Friend for the cover of The California Sunday Magazine’s April 5 edition is one of Time’s Top 10 covers of the year.

    “Our selection of the top 10 covers of 2015 displays an exquisite use of photography,” writes Kira Pollack in Time’s online article announcing the best covers. “With this unranked selection, we’ve witnessed that the cover still holds the power to be iconic and, at the very least, move and delight us.”

    Other covers on the list include the Vanity Fair image of Caitlyn Jenner shot by famous photographer Annie Leibovitz, New York Magazine’s issue featuring black and white images of 35 women who claim to be victims of Bill Cosby and a Harper’s Bazaar photo of singer Rihanna in the mouth of a shark.

    Friend said she is thrilled her work is included in a collection of so many amazing images.

    “It gives a boost to the aspects I really believe in regarding photography and its ability to reach a certain and specific sentiment with people,” she said. “When you are struck by an image, it remains with you.”

    As a fine arts photographer, Friend works with light.

    In her photographic series Dare alla Luce, she uses light to re-make vintage photographs.

    “We loved the work of Canadian artist Amy Friend, specifically her series Dare alla Luce, in which she manipulates archival photographs with a needle and then projects light through the images,” said the magazine’s creative director Leo Jung.

    More and more, artists are being approached to work with mainstream media.

    The California Sunday Magazine cover is inspired by that series and shows the silhouette of a woman with spots of light shining through, giving it a poignant quality. John von Pamer took the picture of the woman and Friend applied her technique on it and then re-photographed it. It goes with the story Death, Re-Designed.

    “The resulting image has an otherworldly, ethereal quality – a perfect metaphor for this story,” said Jacqueline Bates, photography director.

    Friend said it’s not unusual for artists to work in editorial realms.

    “More and more, artists are being approached to work with mainstream media,” she said, noting that’s opening even more doors for her students at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    “There’s fertile ground between the fine arts stream and with editorial based work,” she said.

    Friend said Brock visual arts students are exposed to both digital and analogue photography thanks to the MIWSFPA’s brand new darkroom.

    “It’s what really sets us apart from many other universities, which are mainly concentrating on digital,” she said.

    As a photographer, she knows the value of a well-rounded education in the art form.

    “Every time a student develops a photo in the darkroom, it’s a completely magical experience,” she said.

    In her photography, Friend said she concentrates on elements of history, time, memory and impermanence.

    “Despite photography’s traditional connection with the real, I am less concerned with capturing a ‘concrete’ reality, and instead aim to use and explore photography as a medium yet focus on what lies beyond its immediate visual representations,” she said.

    In much of her work, Friend uses found images and vintage pictures.

    Dare Alla Luce has been published in book form by photolucida.org and one of the images featured hangs in the new FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines.

    Friend’s recent work will be on display at Rodman Hall from Jan. 29-May 1 in a show called Assorted Boxes of Ordinary Life, curated by Marcie Bronson.

    An opening reception will be held Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.

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  • New video about the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts released

    vlcsnap-2015-11-30-17h40m00s251_thSee this introduction to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University in St. Catharines ON, with scenes from the events of the official opening of the new facility on September 18, 2015.

     

     

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  • St. Catharines celebrates opening of ‘transformative’ downtown arts school

    Brock University ambassadors provided a tour of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts following the grand opening proceedings.

    Brock University ambassadors provided a tour of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts following the grand opening proceedings.

    (Source: Niagara This Week, September 21, 2015 | By Mike Zettel)

    ST. CATHARINES – There was excitement in the air Friday in front of the former Canada Hair Cloth building as hundreds gathered under and around a large tent to celebrate a new purpose for the 19th century textile factory.

    The culmination of a work begun more than eight years ago, Brock University and the City of St. Catharines officially opened the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. The building, which, skillfully designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, incorporates much of the former factory, including its brick, wooden and steel beams and large windows, while adding state-of-the-art elements.

    It houses the dramatic arts, music, and visual arts departments, as well as the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture. In all, 50 full-time faculty members, part-time instructors and staff will join about 500 students in the $45.5-million facility.

    Brock president Jack Lightstone traced the path leading to last week’s opening, saying it began with a vision by former chancellor Ray Moriyama and former dean of humanities Rosemary Hale, who say the potential for the old industrial site located right in the heart of the downtown.

    The school complements the soon opening FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, with students going back and forth between the two adjacent facilities.

    Lightstone said the decision to move downtown was made at Brock under the condition the university would not be making a standalone building but rather one that works within a new vision for the downtown as a hub of arts, culture, entertainment and digital media.

    “Right from the very beginning it was conceived we would use each other’s buildings in a symbiotic and dynamic way,” he said.

    The beginnings of the project were also accompanied by an inevitable skepticism, Lightstone said, noting he was reminded all too often of the many failed plans for revitalizing the downtown.

    Those voices were largely silenced, though, he said, by the generous and “transformative” gift by Norris and Marilyn I. Walker of $15 million to establish the school.

    “When they made that commitment, everyone knew we had no choice but to make it happen,” he said, calling it a “catalytic moment.”

    MPP Jim Bradley, who Lightstone referred to as the minister of Niagara and Brock, said the school has added to a new feeling of optimism for downtown St. Catharines.

    “Today it stands as a testament to our manufacturing past and as an example of our economic renewal and creative spirit in our community,” he said.

    Mayor Walter Sendzik noted there were many who made the vision for the school a reality, and he singled out the previous council under former Mayor Brian McMullan for ensuring the building, which had to be expropriated, was available for Brock.

    However, he said three people, Lightstone, Hale and Walker, were crucial to its success.

    “Take one of those involved out of the equation, and I don’t think we’re standing here today,” he said.

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  • GRAND OPENING: The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at 15 Artists’ Common, Downtown St. Catharines

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Department of Dramatic Arts celebrated the grand opening of the new facility on Friday, September 18th, 2015.  Hundreds of people from the community were on hand to share the milestone. Below, we’ve collected some videos and news items from that event:




    Read the article in the Brock News, complete with short video tours.


    See this short report by TVCOGECO Niagara on the occasion of the Grand Opening Ceremony:


    See the report “Brock celebrates new school in heart of the city” in the St. Catharines Standard, featuring two short videos about the school and Marilyn I. Walker:


    Listen to the report about the new MIWSFPA facility’s grand opening from the The Brock News podcast Episode 1, one in a series of podcasts being produced at the University, showcasing interesting people, research and news. The segment on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts can be found at cue 1:40 – 3:54. We’ve provided a clip here.

    Brock University ambassadors provided a tour of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts following the grand opening proceedings.

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  • Downtown parking for MIWSFPA opening ceremony

    (Source: The Brock News, Thursday, September 17, 2015 | by . Photo: A parking map for the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts grand opening.)

    Guests attending the opening of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts — which starts at 3 pm on Friday, Sept. 18 — should allow a minimum 15 minutes to find parking in downtown St. Catharines and walk to the school.

    Please note there is no parking at the Walker School campus, due to the temporary structure installed for the opening ceremony.

    However, there are numerous downtown sites that have hourly parking and are a short walk from the MIWSFPA.

    Use this legend for the accompanying map:

    1. Garden Park / Carlisle Street Garage — 71 Carlisle Street
    2. Garden Park Lot — 11 Garden Park
    3. St. Paul Street parking lot
    4. Ontario Street Parking Garage — 8 Ontario Street
    5. Market Square Lot — 50 Church Street, accessible from King or James Streets
    6. Central Library Lot — accessible from King or Carlisle Streets

    On the map, pedestrian access from St. Paul Street to the Walker School is designated by blue lines.

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    Categories: Announcements, Events, In the Media, News

  • With construction finished, Brock’s new downtown arts school gets ready to educate

    (Source: The Brock News, Monday, June 1, 2015. Photo: Music student Grace Snippe performs during a media tour of the Marilyn I. Walker School for the Fine and Performing Arts on Friday. A videographer from CHCH in Hamilton zooms in.)

    On 15 May 2015, after more than two years of construction, a major project in downtown St. Catharines was granted formal occupancy by the city’s building department.

    At that moment, the new home of Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts officially stopped being a building project and began life as a dynamic educational facility.

    The keys were handed over, and the University became responsible for everything from security guards to providing Wi-Fi, switching on the lights and cleaning the restrooms.

    Brock University President Jack Lightstone calls the MIWSFPA a landmark development for Brock and Niagara.

    “For Brock, it provides another purpose-built facility serving the very specialized needs of the school, like the Cairns Complex has done for science and health science,” he said. “For Niagara, it is a landmark in what a university and a city government can achieve in a close working partnership to bring new life and a new economic base to St. Catharines’ downtown core.”

    The five-storey school is partly new construction and partly restored heritage buildings, including a 19th-century textile mill. But it’s all state-of-the-art, from the new 235-seat performing arts theatre to its digital media studios, photo darkrooms, instrumental music rooms and any other number of specialized facilities needed to support the development of students within numerous genres of dramatic arts, music and visual arts.

    The project was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, who have been the visionaries behind entertainment complexes in cities from Toronto and Montreal to St. Petersburg, Russia.

    “The adaptive re-use of this fine heritage structure is bringing to life innovations in dramatic arts education that demonstrate the value of preserving this building in the revitalization of St. Catharines,” said Michael Leckman, principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.

    The inaugural wave of 500 students won’t arrive for another three months, but from now until September the Walker School will bustle with activity.

    Just furnishing an empty 93,700-square-foot complex will take weeks, and once the moving trucks have stopped unloading, faculty and staff members relocating from the Walker School’s current home on the main Brock campus will scramble to get settled and organized for a September they will always remember.

    The ambitious $45.5-million project was made possible by a $26.2-million investment from the Ontario government as well as a $15-million transformational gift from local textile artist and philanthropist Marilyn I. Walker.

    Walker, who recently got her first tour of the completed project, said she was extremely pleased with the final result.

    “It’s a challenge to your imagination to comprehend what all could be done within this building when it comes to educating students,” she said. “It’s not what the physical building means so much as the opportunities it will provide … the possibilities for using these state-of-the art facilities for the benefit of the community.”

    Official opening ceremonies are being planned for mid-September, during Brock’s Homecoming Weekend, and University officials are also working on plans for public tours of the landmark facility, probably sometime in the fall.

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    Categories: In the Media, News