A Halifax couple has donated $10 million to Dalhousie University to start the largest performing arts school east of Montreal.

"The laws of the universe are fundamentally based on physics, chemistry, music and theatre," joked Fred Fountain as he and his wife Elizabeth announced their donation to the school.

"To neglect the arts would be to deprive part of our soul and wellbeing."

The Fountains said they were inspired by a fundraising campaign called Bold Ambitions. They saw large investments in other Dalhousie departments, and didn’t want the arts to be left behind. They said they wanted to make a contribution that would benefit the community as a whole.

"I have always had a soft spot in my heart for musicians," said Elizabeth Fountain. "May our gift be a gift to you all."

‘Revolutionize’ the program

The donation is one of the largest gifts in Dalhousie’s history.

The Fountains said their money will be used to "spruce up" the aging Dalhousie Arts Centre.

The program is expected to officially open July 1, 2014.

'To neglect the arts would be to deprive part of our soul and wellbeing' —Fred Fountain

"Through initiatives in teaching, research and the student experience, it will solidify Halifax’s and Dalhousie’s position as a leader in performing arts education," said Dalhousie President Tom Traves.

He said it would revolutionize the way the university teaches music and theatre.

"The talent that it attracts, trains and retains will be a source of pride and inspiration for Dalhousie and indeed for the community beyond our campus."

Fred Fountain also used the announcement as a stage for some political pressure.

"I will also make the point that our governments – particularly provincial and municipal – should support the arts more than they do."

He joked that it is possible to help the arts without raising taxes.

The Fountains are known for their philanthropic work in Halifax’s arts community. They’ve supported Symphony Nova Scotia and Neptune Theatre in the past.