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SFU Contemporary Arts at Woodward's receives $1 million in Canada Cultural Spaces funding

James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, today announced that SFU Contemporary Arts at Woodward's will receive $1 million in funding through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

The money will support the school's two largest performance spaces: the 450-seat Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre and another 350-seat cinema that is still unnamed. Both of the facilities will be used by the professional arts community and made available to the general public. They will give more Canadians access to the performing arts by increasing the number of high-quality, technologically advanced, mid-sized theatres in Vancouver.

Public programming at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre will open with Robert Lepage's The Blue Dragon/Le Dragon Bleu in February 2010 as part of the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad. Tickets are available at

A $30-million fundraising campaign is underway to ensure SFU Contemporary Arts at Woodward's becomes a vital component of Vancouver's artistic, cultural and economic future. Close to $19 million has been raised to date, including a $3-million gift from campaign chair and SFU chancellor emeritus, Milton Wong. To learn more about gifting opportunities, including naming the cinema, contact Chris Arnet at or 778.782.5304.

About SFU Contemporary Arts at Woodward's
In late 2007, the B.C. government announced funding of $50.3-million to enable Simon Fraser University's School for the Contemporary Arts to move into a new home on the former Woodward's department store site in the 100-block of W. Hastings in downtown Vancouver. (The $80-million project will be completed with the generous support of donors.)

SFU Contemporary Arts has a 30-year track record as a national training school for interdisciplinary arts and offers undergraduate degree programs in Art and Culture Studies, Dance, Film, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts, in addition to a Master of Fine Arts degree. Currently, there are 350 undergraduate majors and minors in the School, and approximately 1,500 individual SFU students who take Contemporary Arts courses in a given year.

The School presents more than 100 events each year, and the new site is designed to welcome more than 5,000 arts enthusiasts to music, film, theatre, dance and visual arts events.

SFU is committed to being a good neighbour in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and will offer cultural partnerships, non-credit educational initiatives and facility rentals to foster community engagement.

The 125,000-sq-ft (11,000-sq-m) facility includes:

  • The Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, which can accommodate staging configurations ranging from proscenium to arena and can seat as many as 450 people. This space can be subdivided to create a separate 125-seat performance space or to allow rehearsals without interfering with the main-stage space. The full area of the floor will be sprung for dance or physical theatre.
  • Two 125-seat studio theatres, one of which is optimized for dance, the other for theatre performance.
  • The World Art Studio, which will house the school's Indonesian Gamelan orchestra.
  • A 350-seat cinema/lecture hall equipped to screen feature films, and house large lectures and panel discussions.
  • A teaching gallery on the ground floor to accommodate contemporary visual arts exhibitions. There are six moving wall panels that can be arranged as display walls or used to partition the gallery into three parts.

The facility will house most of the teaching and administrative functions of the School for the Contemporary Arts. Other teaching and research facilities include:

  • A professional-calibre film soundstage with acoustic isolation for the shooting of interior sequences, a film classroom and two 25-seat screening rooms.
  • Three additional dance studios, each slightly different in character and optimized for different dance forms.
  • Two additional theatre studios with sprung floors for movement training.
  • A principal music teaching studio to complement the World Art Studio as well as smaller studios and practice rooms for teaching and studio work in acoustic and electronic music.
  • Two visual art and interdisciplinary studios.
  • A two-level multidisciplinary complex incorporating two computer teaching labs and numerous smaller computer-based editing and composing suites for film, video, graphics and design, electro-acoustic music as well as several traditional film editing suites.

This sustainable building has high environmental standards including:

  • Extensive "green roofs" throughout the site.
  • Significant recycled content and local sourcing for material selection.
  • Using the existing Beatty Steam plant to convert steam to hot water radiant heating.
  • A 100-year life expectancy (most buildings now have a 30- to 50-year life expectancy).




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