In the Media

  • 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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    Categories: In the Media, News

  • 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

  • Almost ready for the big move!

    University architect and project manager Scott Roper leading the tour outside of the Learning Commons of the new facility of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St.Catharines.

    The four programs of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts — Dramatic Arts, Music, Studies in Arts and Culture, and Visual Arts — are counting down to the big move to the new facility at 198 St. Paul in downtown St. Catharines.  The trucks start rolling at the end of this month.  To say we are excited would be an understatement!

    On May 29, 2015 we invited student and media to join us for a tour of the new facilities. Take a look at these reports from CHCH TelevisionCogeco “The Source”, the St. Catharines Standard, and the Brock News.

    We also invite you to have a look at the following slide show of photos taken by the Chair of Dramatic Arts, David Vivian:


    For more information please contact Marie Balsom.

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    Categories: Alumni, Future Students, In the Media, News

  • Visual Arts Instructor wins teaching excellence award

    (Source: The Brock News, Friday, April 24, 2015)

    Visual Arts Instructor Amy Friend has been awarded with the Clarke Thomson Award for Excellence in Sessional Teaching.

    The award is presented annually to an instructor who is on contract or a limited term appointment and has been teaching undergraduate classes for two or more years.

    Friend was ‘elated’ to hear that she won the award. She was particularly excited to have her work validated and recognized.

    “I work at establishing an environment that empowers students to be thinkers who actively seek creative solutions in their research,” she says. “I stress the importance of experimentation and exploration to build a climate of openness and possibility, which I believe is paramount to their success.”

    Friend was also quick to credit the support of her Visual Arts colleagues, as well as the faculty of Humanities and the greater Brock community, with making her job easier.

    Having taught in numerous grades prior to achieving her MFA, Friend credits the culture in one of her master’s level courses at the University of Windsor with shaping her approach to teaching.

    “I learned to look closely at what each student was aiming to accomplish within the perimeters of the course and I learned to set aside my own expectations,” she says.

    With this student-centred teaching focus, Friend has secured the respect and admiration of students, faculty, alumni and staff at the University.

    The Clarke Thomson Award for Excellence in Sessional Teaching will be presented April 28, at the Spring Perspectives event. The award will be presented at 2:30 p.m. and will be accepted on her behalf by Duncan MacDonald.

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    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News

  • Music and Dramatic Arts collaborate with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra


    The Niagara Symphony Orchestra on the stage of the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre of the Centre for the Arts at Brock University. Pictured below are Elizabeth Pereira, Virginia Reh and Evan Mulrooney.

    Many Canadian orchestras have brought Classical Kids’ Beethoven Lives Upstairs program to their stages over the years, but the Niagara Symphony has brought a fresh new approach to this classic event. Brock Dramatic Arts student Elizabeth Pereira and alumnus Evan Mulrooney will play the roles of Christoph and the Uncle respectively, in performance with the Niagara Symphony (led by music director Bradley Thachuk) in April 2015.  They earned the roles through competitive auditions at the school, and will be directed by Brock Professor of Drama Virginia Reh.

    It’s part of a many-faceted partnership between the NSA and the university.  The Niagara Symphony is Orchestra in Residence at Brock University, NSO concert notes are prepared by Brock Music Department faculty member Dr. Brian E. Power, the NSO participates in the Community Arts Partnership with the Brock Department of Music, Brock Music Ed Plus ensembles are featured in as part of Spotlight On!, Music Ed Plus students mentor and volunteer at Summer Music Camp, Brock faculty members coach, and adjudicate practice auditions, for students in The Academy @ SMC, NSO musicians Laura Thomas, Brent Adams, Gordon Cleland, Steve Fralick, Zoltan Kalman, Vera Alexeeva and Patricia Dydnansky are on faculty with the Brock Department of Music, and the NSO offers special PSSTnso (post secondary student ticket) pricing for university students.

    from the article posted September 17 in the Orchestra NewsWeekly Newsletter

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    Categories: Alumni, Department/Centre News, In the Media, News

  • Walker Cultural Leader Series caps successful season March 28

    (Source: The Brock News, Tuesday, March 25, 2014)

    The Walker Cultural Leader Series caps another successful year March 28 with a performance from Ensemble Vivant.

    The group consists of pianist, founder and artistic director Catherine Wilson, as well as Sybil Shanahan (cello), Don Thompson (acoustic bass, vibraphone), Erica Beston (violin) and Norman Hathaway (violin, viola).

    Championing a unique genre-diverse repertoire in their concerts and recordings since the group first came on the scene in the late 1980s, Ensemble Vivant has received critical acclaim for its work in the classical piano-trio literature, as well as for its forays into the worlds of ragtime, jazz and tango.

    It has recorded for such labels as Fanfare, Pro Arte, Doremi, SPY and Opening Day/Universal and Opening Day Entertainment Group, and its recordings are heard on classical radio around the world.

    The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.

    Tickets (not including GST) are free for Marilyn I. Walker School for Performing Arts students, $15.04 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $5 for the eyeGo high school program.

    Tickets are available at the Centre for the Arts box office (905-688-5550 x3257) or online.

    For more information, contact Matthew Royal.

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    Categories: Events, In the Media, News, Walker Cultural Leader Series

  • Halfway home: It’s good news for Brock’s downtown arts school

    (Source: The Brock NewsTuesday, February 11, 2014)

    The construction of Brock University’s new arts school in downtown St. Catharines has passed the midway point, as workers have kept the major project moving along despite this winter’s harsh weather.

    Three senior University officials appeared before St Catharines City Council on Monday Feb 10 with an update on the $45-million project that will house the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    And their news was good.

    “We’re on time, and we’re on budget,” said Brian Hutchings, Vice-President of Finance and Administration, who joined President Jack Lightstone and Humanities Dean Douglas Kneale for the council presentation. Hutchings said the Walker School is still scheduled to be open for September 2015.

    Lightstone, who first proposed the idea of twin downtown arts projects when he appeared in the same council chamber seven years ago, said the urban-centre location lets the University play a role in helping local communities. The University and City worked together to find a site for the Brock project in an industrial heritage building, the former Canada Hair Cloth plant.

    “Brock University is proud to be a partner and supporter of St Catharines, and indeed of Niagara,” said Lightstone. “For years Brock has publicly stated that one of our top priorities is to help strengthen our host communities intellectually, socially, culturally and economically.”

    Kneale said creating a new centre of learning in the shell of an old industrial site is a “perfect metaphor” that will help future generations become part of Canada’s billion-dollar cultural sector.

    “We are taking a 19th-century textile factory and turning it into a state-of-the-art facility for more than 500 students,” said Kneale. “Opportunities like this happen but once in a lifetime.”

    As part of the presentation, city councillors viewed a video presentation on the project done by Tracy van Oosten, a Brock graduate of visual arts and film studies.

    At the worksite, the full footprint of the Walker School is now visible. The main structure for the project’s new construction – mainly, the new dramatic arts theatre – is up, and now workers will largely focus on the complex interior work in all of the buildings, the most time-consuming being the renovation and repurposing of the older structures.

    The University and City arts projects were the initial catalysts of a massive downtown renewal initiative, which now also includes the Meridian Centre, a 4,500-seat ice rink and spectator facility expected to be completed this autumn.

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  • Arts centres on time and on budget: Brock, St. Catharines

    (Source: The St. Catharines Standard, Tuesday, February 11, 2014 | By Marlene Bergsma)

    Construction on both the city’s Performing Arts Centre and Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is on time and on budget – but the recent cold snap has forced the city’s contractor to rent ground-thawing equipment.

    Brock president Jack Lightstone told St. Catharines councillors it’s been seven years since he first made a presentation to council suggesting a partnership to revitalize downtown, and he said Brock continues to be “proud to be a partner and supporter of St. Catharines and Niagara.”

    With an anticipated enrolment of 500 students plus faculty and staff, and the city’s construction of an adjacent performing arts centre, the Walker school of art “will truly revitalize the downtown core of the city,” Lightstone said.

    Brock’s VP of finance and administration, Brian Hutchings, said construction and renovations on Brock’s part of the project are “50% done, and we are on time and on budget.”

    Showing pictures to council, Hutchings said the university is preserving much of the character of the former Canada Hair Cloth building, by showcasing wooden pillars, exposed masonry and existing windows.

    Douglas Kneale, Brock’s Dean of Humanities, said turning the former factory building into classrooms and rehearsal studios “is the perfect metaphor for St. Catharines’ industrial past and post-industrial future.”

    Quoting English Romantic poet William Blake, Kneale said the project is turning “dark Satanic mills” into engines of education and creativity. Kneale also described the state-of-the-art music practice rooms that will offer acoustic isolation with sound-blocking walls, ceilings and windows, and the perfect humidity for singers’ voices and musical instruments.

    Meanwhile a significant part of the foundation has been poured for the city’s performing arts centre project. An aerial shot of the site, taken recently, shows the elevator shaft on the left, next to the crane, and a dark hole in the centre of the frame, which will provide the stairway access to Brock’s school of arts, said St. Patrick’s Coun. Mark Elliott. On the bottom left is bare earth which will be the site of Partridge Hall, the centre’s biggest venue with 775 seats, which will boast sophisticated and invisible acoustical panels which can be automatically adjusted for the type of concert or event.

    Parks and recreation director Rick Lane said the city’s project is also on time and on budget, although the cold weather which has frozen the ground has posed some problems for Bird Construction, which has been using heaters to thaw the earth so they can continue with necessary excavation.

    Mayor Brian McMullan thanked Lightstone for the “vision and passion” he has brought to the project, and said it was “one of the reasons it succeeded and it will truly be a transformative project.”

    Lightstone also showed a video showcasing Brock’s arts programs.


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  • Brock community event looks at theatre criticism in the digital age

    (Source: The Brock News, Monday, February 10, 2014)

    An upcoming series of community discussions at Brock University later this month will debate the question: is everyone a critic?

    Media professionals, theatre experts, scholars and students will assemble in Sankey Chamber at Brock Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 to take part in the colloquium, The Changing Face of Theatre Criticism in the Digital Age, hosted by the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    “The rise of blogging and Twitter, combined with the decline of print journalism, is raising important questions about what counts as legitimate, professional criticism,” says Karen Fricker, event co-ordinator and a professor of dramatic arts. “Our discussions will focus on the current critical scene in Niagara, as well as imagining possible futures for the arts in our community.”

    Panel members include two of Toronto’s most influential theatre critics: J. Kelly Nestruck of The Globe and Mail and Richard Ouzounian of the Toronto Star. Others include local figures like Jackie Maxwell, artistic director of the Shaw Festival, and Steve Solski, director of the St. Catharines Centre for the Performing Arts.

    The colloquium will also feature international critics: Jill Dolan, Princeton University professor and noted theatre blogger (; Maddy Costa, a London, England blogger and journalist; and Andy Horwitz, founder of New York arts blog

    Dolan is visiting Brock as part of the Walker Cultural Leaders series. While here, she will deliver a public lecture, “Moving the Body Politic: How Feminism and Theatre Inspire Social Re-imaginings.” Her lecture, co-sponsored by the Department of Dramatic Arts and Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies at Brock, takes place Friday, Feb. 21, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, also in Sankey Chamber.

    All of these events are free and open to the public.

    Funding for these events is provided by the Walker Cultural Leaders Series, the Brock Humanities Research Institute and the SSHRC Institutional Grant scheme, and the St. Catharines Performing Arts Centre.

    All events will be live-streamed.  [Click on “live video”]

    SCHEDULE: The Changing Face of Theatre Criticism in the Digital Age

    All events take place in Sankey Chamber at Brock University

    FRIDAY, FEB. 21:

    * 2 – 2:30 p.m.: Welcome
    Presentation by Brock dramatic arts students from the third-year class, Studies in Praxis – Theatre Criticism

    * 2:30 – 4 p.m.: Panel discussion “Critics and the arts in Niagara”

    • Jill Dolan (respondent)
    • Monica Dufault, artistic director, Essential Collective Theatre
    • David Fancy, associate professor of Dramatic Arts, Brock University, co-artistic director, neXt Company Theatre (chair)
    • John Law, arts and entertainment writer, Sun Media
    • Sara Palmieri, co-founder, In the Soil Festival
    • Stephen Remus, minister of energy, minds, and resources, Niagara Arts Centre
    • Steve Solski, director, St. Catharines Centre for the Performing Arts
    • Candice Turner-Smith, managing director, Niagara Symphony Orchestra

    * 4:15 – 5:45 p.m.: Panel discussion “Embedded criticism: a new way forward, or criticism-as-PR?”

    • Maddy Costa, critic and blogger
    • Karen Fricker
    • Andy Horwitz, founder,
    • Jackie Maxwell, artistic director, Shaw Festival
    • Jacob Gallagher-Ross, assistant professor of theatre, University of Buffalo (respondent)
    • Lawrence Switzky, assistant professor of Drama, University of Toronto at Mississauga (chair)

    SATURDAY, FEB. 22:

    * 10 – 10:30 a.m.: Welcome
    Presentation by Brock dramatic arts students from the third-year class, Studies in Praxis – Theatre Criticism

    * 10:30 a.m. – 12 noon: Panel discussion “Bloggers, critics, and cultural legitimation”

    • Jill Dolan
    • Karen Fricker (chair)
    • Andy Horwitz (respondent)
    • J. Kelly Nestruck, lead theatre critic, The Globe and Mail
    • Richard Ouzounian, lead theatre critic, Toronto Star
    • Holger Syme, chair, Department of English and Drama, University of Toronto at Mississauga, and blogger (
    • Odette Yazbeck, director of public relations, Shaw Festival

    * 12:15 – 1 p.m.: Colloquium wrap-up

    • Maddy Costa; Jill Dolan; Karen Fricker (chair); Rosemary Drage Hale, director of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Brock University; and Andy Horwitz

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    Categories: In the Media, News