Articles tagged with: miwsfpa

  • Brock co-led research to study police training in mental illness

    Dr. Natalie Alvarez, an associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts

    (Source: The Brock NewsWednesday, September 13, 2017 | by Cathy Majtenyi)

    It’s the heat of the moment. A person in mental health distress is waving a knife in the air, yelling or screaming or perhaps even silent. A police officer is on the scene.

    What happens next?

    It’s a question that undoubtedly will come up in Toronto police Constable James Forcillo’s appeal trial, which started Monday. Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder for the 2013 shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar.

    It’s also a question that Brock University researchers Natalie Alvarez and Yasmine Kandil are exploring in their research on how to use theatre to train police officers.

    Dr. Yasmine Kandil

    Dr. Yasmine Kandil

    Alvarez, an associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts, along with Yasmine Kandil, an assistant professor in Dramatic Arts, are co-leading a study that will create and evaluate the effectiveness of a type of scenario-based police training grounded in problem-based training methods the team refers to as ‘forum scenarios.’

    In forum scenarios, a scene is played out for an audience. The scene is then performed again, but an audience member can step in to intervene by making different choices, creating a different outcome and changing the way a particular issue is viewed or dealt with. It’s a form of teaching and learning that promotes the principles of procedural justice.

    Theatre educators Alvarez and Kandil of Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts, and Wilfred Laurier forensic psychologist Jennifer Lavoie, alongside their cross-Canada team with specializations in mental illness and de-escalation training, are partnering with the Durham Regional Police and collaborators from the Ontario Police College.

    The federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council has awarded the team a $310,960 grant to carry out the four-year study.

    “Experiential learning through forum methods is much more effective in integrating knowledge, being able to apply that knowledge and retain it long term,” says Alvarez. The study builds on Alvarez’s upcoming book that examines the use of immersive simulations in a variety of training and educational contexts.

    Experts involved in the scenarios aim to teach police officers how to recognize behavioural characteristics of various mental illnesses that may present barriers to communication in high-stakes encounters, the impacts and consequences that certain actions will have on the person in crisis, and how to de-escalate volatile situations.

    “We want to recreate situations where the officer perceives a situation where there’s an imminent threat, they’re under extreme stress, and they have to make refined, ethical judgments in that moment of stress,” says Alvarez.

    The team will also address mental health stigmas and misconceptions.

    For Alvarez, the research is not just academic.

    “My oldest sister suffers from schizophrenia and she’s become an advocate for the rights of people living with mental illness,” says Alvarez, adding that her sister frequently gives talks to RCMP officers on the subject.

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    Categories: Announcements, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, Media Releases, News

  • Donna Akrey – Also Also

    Curated by Marcie Bronson
    February 11 to April 30, 2017
    Opening Reception: Saturday, February 11, 3 pm
    HOT TALK: Thursday, March 2, 7 pm. Donna Akrey in conversation with Marcie Bronson
    Rodman Hall Art Centre, 106 St. Paul Crescent, St. Catharines
    Admission to the gallery is by donation ($5 suggested)
    Gallery Hours: Tues. – Fri. 10 am – 5 pm, Sat. – Sun. 12 pm – 5 pm

    Donna Akrey is interested in how habit shapes the way we experience and engage with the world around us. Rooted in her astute observation of patterns of communication and consumption, her work humorously intervenes to raise discussion about social and environmental issues, often responding directly to a particular site or community. Using common, surplus, and discarded materials to construct sculptures and installations that she describes as “ruminations on the spectacle of the unspectacular”, Akrey draws attention to the futility of the notion of “the ultimate” and the richness in the space between intention and result. Akrey explains: “I imagine the absurd as real, because sometimes the real is so absurd.” Alongside selected works from the last 15 years of her practice, this exhibition presents a site-specific outdoor installation created in collaboration with neighbourhood residents.

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    Categories: Events

  • Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts wins National Trust Award

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts was honoured with one of five National Trust for Canada national Cornerstone Awards for building restoration! Read more about it at Niagara This Week.


    The National Trust noted the Marilyn I. Walker centre’s transformation of the old hair cloth factory dating back to 1888 — along with a 35,000 square-foot addition — is a “key element” of the broader downtown revitalization plan and was done while retaining many elements of the historic building’s interior such as wooden floor beams, metal columns and stone and masonry walls.

    Scott Roper, project manager for Brock, said in the university’s Brock Press publication that Brock had “utter success” in creating a stand-out academic entity while being a trigger for the social, economic and urban revitalization of downtown St. Catharines.

    “While Brock has constructed several substantial buildings over the past two decades, the creation of the Marilyn Walker School represented a bold step into the downtown, integration with the surrounding community, and into the unfamiliar area of adaptive re-use,” Roper said.

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    Categories: 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

  • 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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  • News of the downtown project

    New facilities for the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts

    In February 2011, Diamond & Schmitt Architects of Toronto were chosen to design the new teaching and learning facilities for the faculty, staff, and students of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in the heart of the historic centre of St. Catharines.

    Rehabilitating the former Canada Hair Cloth building for multi-purpose use by the departments of Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts and the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, these new facilities will provide state-of-the-art production and workshop support, music practice facilities, art studios, lecture and seminar rooms as well as a versatile stand-alone 235-seat theatre for drama students.

    The City of St. Catharines is developing an adjacent Performing Arts Centre (PAC) for which Diamond & Schmitt will also serve as lead architect. Comprising a 775-seat Concert Hall, a 300-seat Recital Hall, a 187-seat Film Theatre and a 210-seat Community Dance Theatre, these facilities will greatly enhance the already strong theatrical and musical offerings in the City of St. Catharines. Under a unique joint agreement with the City of St. Catharines, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts will have use of the Recital Hall and the Film Theatre in support of its academic programs.

    We invite you to follow the project’s progress and look forward to moving into our new facilities in May 2015.

    Please consider attending one of our Open Houses in October or March, or consult the programs comprising the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts for further information.


    Support the School with your donations

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts will be moving to new purpose-designed facilities located in downtown St. Catharines’ historical Canada Hair Cloth building in May 2015. Designed by the prestigious Toronto-based firm Diamond & Schmitt Architects, the project provides state-of-the-art studio, digital lab, performance, recital, practice, lecture, design and workshop spaces for students in the departments of Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts and our Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture.

    Students and faculty can benefit in a myriad of different ways from the generosity of our donors, including donations made in support of our new downtown school, endowed scholarships, sponsorships of lectures series or programs, and gifts of special equipment, musical instruments or works of art. Donations in support of Brock University and its educational mission are always greatly appreciated.

    Should you wish to help support us we have identified three funding priorities:

    1. The building project
    2. Student awards and scholarships
    3. Research and creativity – sponsorships in support of lecture series, performances, or exhibitions

    For more information regarding how to donate, please click here.

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    Categories: Media Releases, News

  • 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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  • Groundbreaking ceremony for the Walker School


    From left: Douglas Kneale, Dean, Faculty of Humanities; John Suk, Vice-Chair, Brock Board of Trustees; Jack Lightstone, Brock University President and Vice-Chancellor; Jim Bradley, MPP, St. Catharines; Marilyn I. Walker; Mark Elliott, councilor, City of St. Catharines; Joe Robertson, Chair, Brock Board of Trustees; Derek Knight, director, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    May 31, 2013
    University Marketing & Communications
    905-688-5550 x4687

    Supporters raise a cheer as downtown Walker School takes shape

    Partners, politicians and downtown boosters joined Brock University officials today in a celebration at the St. Catharines construction site that will be the new home of Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Amid scaffolding and construction equipment, workers paused for about 30 minutes while guests got a close-up look at the progress and saluted the efforts of designers, engineers and project leaders who have stewarded the major initiative through more than two years of planning.

    Marilyn Walker herself wielded a shovel alongside University President Jack Lightstone, Brock Board Chair Joe Robertson and other officials for a ceremonial ground-breaking, even though the site has been a hive of activity for several months.

    With a budget of $39.6 million, the project will transform the former Canada Haircloth textile mill into an innovative teaching facility whose 500 students, faculty and staff will help revitalize the city centre when they relocate from Brock’s main campus in 2015. Situated between a new Performing Arts Centre and a new Spectator Facility, which are being built by the City of St. Catharines, the school is one of several major projects that will dramatically change the face of the city core.

    The Brock project received $26.2 million from the Ontario government, and is also being supported by numerous generous partners from across the community.

    Lightstone told today’s gathering that the new Walker School “is a tribute to the concept of community partnership. This is much more than a building. It is a statement about what can happen when many hands work together to build a better future.”

    The project moved into full construction mode in January after Brock entered into an agreement with the low bidder, Bird Construction Group. Much of the project involves renovating existing buildings, parts of which are from the area’s industrial heritage and date to the 19th century. While the retrofitting will largely take place indoors, the landmark’s exterior will be visually refreshed with new windows and restored brickwork. Plus there will also be new construction when a dramatic arts theatre rises in the coming months and invigorates the downtown landscape.

    For more info: Jeffrey Sinibaldi, media relations, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4687;

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  • View the new MIWSFPA promotional video

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts has released a new promotional video highlighting our departments and centre. View the video below:


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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Future Students, News

  • Brock signs contract to build arts school

    (Source: Niagara This Week, January 18, 2013 | By Mike Zettel)

    Brock has signed a construction contract with Bird Construction Group to build its new fine and performing arts facility in downtown St. Catharines.

    Activity at the site of the old Canada Hair Cloth textile mill at 198 St. Paul Street is expected to start the week of Jan. 21, 2013, with site preparations beginning in early February.

    Construction bids for the project were received in October 2012 and all six bids were over the University’s $26-million budget. The budget was based on the design prepared by Diamond Schmitt Architects, and on the cost estimate prepared by cost consultants Turner & Townsend cm2r.

    Every bid was more than $6 million over the budget.

    Bird Construction Group’s bid came in at $32.2 million, while the others were: ACCEL Construction Management – $32,400,000; Merit Contractors Niagara – $33,290,000; EllisDon Corporation – $33,469,000; Graham Construction & Engineering – $33,900,000; and Carillion Canada Inc – $33,950,000.

    Brock then entered into successful negotiations with Bird Construction, the low bidder for the new home of the University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts facility, to reduce construction costs and move the project forward.

    Brian Hutchings, vice-president of finance and administration, said they were able to shave between $2 and $2.5 million off the $6-million cost overrun. He said the new budget, which is still between $3.5 and $4 million above the original, was presented to Brock’s board of trustees, and it was approved.

    Moving forward, he said Brock will attempt to fundraise the difference, noting that naming rights for the schools are still up for grabs. If the fundraising efforts are not successful, Brock may have to incur additional debt.

    “Worst case, we’ll have to finance it,” Hutchings said.

    As to how the savings were achieved, Scott Walker, director of planning, design and construction, said it wasn’t easy as they thought they had a lean project to begin with. He said when the bids came over budget for the city project, they double checked their numbers.

    He said they looked at literally every aspect of the project and made between 100 and 150 little changes to trim costs.

    He said the team worked with the academic department — the eventual end users for the school — to see what savings could be achieved.

    Examples include using different materials, such as cheaper bricks and tiles, to eliminating drywall ceilings in some parts, narrowing sidewalks, and straightening out walls and a staircase that had been designed with a curve. They even found a cheaper model of toilets.

    “The majority of the savings are made up of little pieces,” he said. “We left no stone unturned.”

    At the end of the day, he said, the overall design looks very similar to the original.

    Brock says there will be a mark the official start of the project with a groundbreaking ceremony in mid-February.

    The facility will put about 500 students, faculty and staff into the city’s downtown when it relocates from Brock’s main campus. The new school will be adjacent to a new Performing Arts Centre and Spectator Facility, which are being built by the City of St. Catharines.

    Hutchings said constructed is expected to wrap up by May 2015, with students starting classes the following September.

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