Winspear Centre expansion project closer to completion with $13M provincial pledge

It's a world-class acoustic marvel, and with a provincial promise of $13 million, the Francis Winspear Centre for Music is expected to become an even more central part of the city's creativity and culture.

Downtown Edmonton music venue has 50 per cent of estimated $53 million needed for expansion

The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra makes the Francis Winspear Centre its home and welcomes artists from around the world. (CBC)

It's a world-class acoustic marvel, and with a provincial promise of $13 million, the Francis Winspear Centre for Music is expected to become an even more central part of the city's creativity and culture.

Anniemarie Petrov, president and CEO of the Winspear, is delighted the Alberta government set aside the funds in Thursday's budget for the expansion of the music venue.

"We're positively thrilled," she told CBC News.

The completion project will expand the facility onto the parking lot facing 97th Street behind the building. It will include a multipurpose space for rehearsals, a smaller performance venue and classrooms. It includes a daycare with 60 spaces, operated by the YMCA.

Petrov said the completion allows the centre to welcome the community on a "daily basis."

"The whole completion project is there to enhance and to complement the existing Winspear, which we all know is a spectacularly beautiful facility," Petrov said. 

The Winspear Centre opened in 1997 and already provides a space for community events and programs. MacEwan University, for example, holds its graduation ceremonies there. 

The Winspear also supports the Tommy Banks Centre for Musical Creativity, with programs for underprivileged youth and adults with disabilities. 

And, of course, the venue is home to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and holds concerts, stand-up comedy and musicals.

"We're about community," Petrov said. "We're about families and music and that being a part of a child's life." 
A rendering of the Winspear completion project, including a smaller performance venue, classrooms and a daycare centre. (Francis Winspear Centre)

With the provincial funding, Petrov said the centre has about 50 per cent of the estimated $53 million needed for the completion project.

She plans to ask the federal government and the community in the coming months to help fill the gap. 

Petrov said the centre aims to have the new section open in about four years, in time for the its 25th birthday.

She said the project is expected to generate 2,000 construction jobs.

@natashariebe