LeRoy Johnson, former MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose, has been appointed to lead the fund-raising campaign for the planned Camrose Performing Arts Centre. He begins his work on November 15.
The announcement was made jointly by the project partners: the University of Alberta—Augustana Campus, the City of Camrose and Camrose County.
“We’re very excited to have a person with LeRoy’s connections to the community and to people across the province, his experience in government, as well as his knowledge of Augustana alumni,” said Camrose Mayor Clarence Mastel. “This campaign will need to build on all of those relationships.”
Johnson, a three-term MLA, has served the community in many roles. He has been a member of the local school board and a city councillor. He was a long-time professor and administrator at Augustana and, earlier in his career, a teacher at schools in the county.
As MLA, he played an instrumental role in Augustana’s incorporation into the University of Alberta and in the development of the Edgeworth Centre. He also helped to secure a $3.5-million Major Community Facilities grant from the provincial government towards the Performing Arts Centre.
“We’ve all experienced the benefits of LeRoy’s persistence,” said Camrose County Reeve Don Gregorwich. “We know he will get the job done.”
While Johnson’s name is often associated with the Viking Cup international hockey tournament, which he founded, he has a long-standing interest in the arts, particularly choral music.
“I think people who know LeRoy as a hockey person will be surprised by his deep commitment to arts and culture,” said Augustana Dean Roger Epp. “In addition, I appreciate his bigger vision of bringing the community and university together to do more than we could do separately.”
The partners also announced the appointment of four community members to a campaign advisory committee. They are Alan Fielding, Blain Fowler, Shirley Rostad and Theo Thirsk.
The proposed Performing Arts Centre will be built on the U of A—Augustana Campus. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed this fall by all the partners envisions that Phase I of the project will include a 550-seat concert hall designed for music performance but able to accommodate dramatic and dance productions as well as public lectures. It will also include a visual arts gallery.
The process of selecting an architect is now in the final stages. While $8.5 million has already been committed to the Centre, in addition to the site, the fund-raising target will be finalized once the building program has been reviewed with potential users, initial design work is completed and up-to-date cost estimates are available.
The MOU makes clear that use of the Centre will balance the needs of local arts organizations, the University and regional audiences in a way that is financially sustainable. The University, it states, “understands and affirms the importance of community access” to the Centre’s long-range success. The MOU envisions the establishment of both a governing board with all partners represented and an operations committee that includes major user groups.
Phase II will commence once further funding is available. It will provide drama teaching, office and a small black-box theatre space, primarily for University use.