The curtain is set to rise in 2017.
But before Fort Erie becomes home to a new state-of-the-art theatre with 500 seats, the District School Board of Niagara and the municipality must raise the money necessary to pay for it.
With a $2 million goal in mind, a committee is already developing a fundraising strategy to raise the money required to build a theatre for Greater Fort Erie Secondary School, Fred Louws said.
Louws, who will be principal of the new school when it opens in September 2017, is optimistic about fundraising efforts.
“I know there are some people who are very committed to the project,” Louws said. “I am confident that we can reach the $2 million goal.”
Last week, the municipality agreed to partner with the DSBN to fund a portion of the $3 million project. Each party will contribute $500,000 toward the cost.
The Town’s first installment of $250,000 will be paid using surplus from the 2014 budget and the remaining portion of the Town’s contribution will be spread out over the course of 2015 and 2016 using any budget surplus generated during those years.
The rest of the funds to pay for the project must be raised through donations. The deadline to raise the money “is due one year from the date the school opens,” Louws said.
Louws is overseeing the formation of the fundraising committee which consists of residents, former and current members of council such as Gary Skerrett, Ron Lampman, Doug Martin, Ashley Strugar, Gord Gregory, Denise Faraday, Ward 4 Coun. Marina Butler and Ward 6 Coun. Chris Knutt.
The committee roster is expected to be finalized this week with the addition of two or three more members, Louws said.
“The idea is to make sure the committee will be a well rounded, connected and respected group.”
As part of the fundraising strategy, Louws said he expects to develop sub-committees to assist in seeking donations from residents, local businesses and corporations as well as private and public grants.
Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop said he will “be very involved in the fundraising efforts” for the theatre.
“Aside from making a personal donation—as I believe will all councillors—I will be involved with the search for sponsors and the activities to raise the necessary funds.”
According to Redekop, the addition of the theatre is an “innovative way to grow our community, expand our tax base and attract new businesses and individuals to Fort Erie.”
“This project also provides many opportunities: to create a valuable partnership, to leverage our investment, to take steps to improve our image and to add a facility that we do not have, but which all of our neighbours have.”
The partnership between the Town and the DSBN is a valuable one “that Fort Erie will be able to utilize to create further partnerships in our efforts to bring post secondary programs, including training programs, to our town.”
“There is a risk that we will not be able to raise the entire $2 million projected,” Redekop said. “But the council believes that we can and the risk that we face is a calculated risk. We will not be raising taxes to cover any shortfall should there be one.”
Fort Erie and Port Colborne school board trustee Dave Schaubel said he wished to thank Fort Erie council “for supporting the incredible opportunity” to build a theatre at the new high school.
“They campaigned on change and progressively doing what is in Fort Erie’s best interest and this definitely is,” Schaubel said. “Our students will benefit greatly through this and as our town continues to show that is not afraid to take positive risks to grow, I believe it will attract businesses as well as forward thinking people.”
Individuals interested in assisting the fundraising committee are asked to e-mail Louws at Fred.Louws@dsbn.org.
Fort Erie Times