The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) was formed in 2002 as an interdisciplinary centre for creative and scholarly activities. We are respected professionals and experienced teachers who remain active in our disciplines, bringing relevant and up-to-date instruction.
Our collective mission embraces a combination of critical thinking, theoretical reflection, and practical outcomes. In offering 3-year Pass, 4-year BA (Hons) and BMus degrees, we provide the foundation for hands-on experience while encouraging insight, rigour, and independent thought. The history of our respective art forms and the thematic relationships between contemporary practice and conceptualization are key to understanding how imagination, creativity and innovation are at the heart of society’s most original cultural expression.
The Walker Gift
In November 2008, the announcement of a $15-million gift from Marilyn I. Walker, famed fibre artist and philanthropist, provided a significant transformation for both the School and downtown St. Catharines community. Unprecedented in its generosity and foresight, the gift was key to securing the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building in downtown St. Catharines for adaptation as a state-of-the-art learning facility. Originally built in 1884 by James A. McSloy, the redesign by world-renowned Diamond Schmitt Architects seamlessly combines the beautifully renovated 19th century industrial building into a striking, contemporary venue of study and research. Since its opening in 2015, the ‘Marilyn’, alongside the neighbouring First Ontario Performing Arts Centre, has played a key role in helping to rejuvenate the urban core of Niagara region’s largest municipality.
Due to the collaboration of Brock University and the City of St. Catharines, the purpose-built facility houses full-time faculty, part-time instructors, staff and almost 2000 students majoring or conducting concurrent programs each year. It enriches the lives of those pursuing careers as artists, theatre directors, production assistants, actors, musicians, cultural theorists, curators, and skilled teachers.
Marilyn I. Walker made this visionary concept possible. Her gift was civic mindedness at its best and an inspiration to many others who have given in support of this project. The gift enabled us to strengthen partnerships between the university, the city, the downtown community, and the Niagara region, as we create a vibrant hub of cultural excellence.