Confederation Centre of the Arts

The centre's design, by architect Dimitri Dimakopoulos and theatre designer George Izenour, was selected by a jury of internationally distinguished architects from among 47 submissions.


Confederation Centre of the Arts

  Confederation Centre of the Arts (formally, The Fathers of Confederation Centre of the Arts), Charlottetown, PEI. Arts complex declared open by Queen Elizabeth II 6 Oct 1964, the 100th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference where discussions towards the creation of Canada were initiated. The Confederation Centres first director was James Mavor Moore.

Design and Theatre Specifications

The centre's design, by architect Dimitri Dimakopoulos and theatre designer George Izenour, was selected by a jury of internationally distinguished architects from among 47 submissions. The centre consists of the 1,102-seat Homburg Theatre (formerly Mainstage Theatre; renamed for Richard Homburg following a $2-million donation in 2009), two studio theatres, the MacKenzie Theatre, an art gallery and museum, libraries, a restaurant that looks out on a sculpture court, and the 18-metre-square Memorial Hall. The Homburg Theatre has a permanent proscenium stage, but the auditorium itself is flexible. Mobile wall panels and ceiling baffles permit acoustic modification. The first five rows of seats in the orchestra section can be removed to produce a thrust stage. Lighting and sound renovations were completed in 2007. The 200-seat, cabaret-style MacKenzie Theatre (formerly the Capitol Theatre) was acquired in 1974 for smaller productions.

Funding

Like the National Arts Centre, the Confederation Centre of the Arts was chartered federally, its national significance evident in the funding formula for its construction: of the total cost of $5.6 million, the federal government contributed $2.8 million, the provinces $0.15 per capita. The centre was to belong to Canada, with Prince Edward Island as custodian. However, no initial financial provision was made for upkeep and operation. By 1975 the centre was carrying a deficit of $600,000 and needed repairs at an estimated cost of almost $1 million. The deficit was alleviated by a federal operating grant of $800,000 in 1976, and another of $900,000 in 1977. In 1978 the federal government allotted a capital grant of $1.25 million over a three-year period for renovations and repairs. In 1983 a five-year federal funding program was initiated in which the federal government was the largest contributor, followed by the province. Other provinces contributed on a per capita basis but their participation has not been consistent. In 2009 the centre received a three-year federal operating grant of $3 million.

Charlottetown Festival and Other Performances

The Charlottetown Festival, held annually at the centre beginning in 1965, is devoted particularly to Canadian musical theatre, with Anne of Green Gables The Musical as its mainstay production.

The centre also has presented Guys and Dolls, Forever Plaid, The Ballad of Stompin Tom, and the world premiere of the musical Emily (1999); and performances by the Canadian Opera Company, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the National Ballet, the National Youth Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and the Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra, Maureen Forrester, Lois Marshall, the Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo, David Clayton-Thomas, Maynard Ferguson, Les Feux Follets, the Harlem Gospel Choir, and Oscar Peterson. The centre sponsored the Confederation Songwriting Competition in 1988, to inspire the writing of a theme song for the 125th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference and the 25th anniversary of the Confederation Centre of the Arts. The winning song was One Canada by Stuart Peterson of Toronto.

The music program has also included several choirs conducted by the music director of the centre: the Confederation Centre Boys' Choir, the Confederation Centre Girls' Choir, the Confederation Youth Chorus, and the Confederation Singers, an adult oratorio choir.

In 2008 the Confederation Centre of the Arts attracted 25,000 patrons to more than 35 performances and received the business of the year award from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

See also Confederation Centre of the Arts choirs.


Further Reading

  • Morrow, Marianne. Overture to Canada's centennial, Opera Canada, May 1964

    Kennedy, Janice. Canadas cultural success story: P.E.I.s Confederation Centre is thriving . . . . , The Ottawa Citizen, 31 Jul 1999

    Atkey, Mel. Broadway North: The Dream of a Canadian Musical Theatre (Toronto 2006)