There’s still a long way to go before the committee raises $2 million for a new performing arts centre but Fred Louws isn’t concerned.
“The momentum is growing and currently, we have raised $325,000 with numerous events forthcoming as well as numerous donations to be announced in the future,” Louws said.
“We do know of a few companies that have committed a good portion of funding which they will give over the course of the next three years,” he added.
Last February, Fort Erie’s councillors agreed to partner with the District School Board of Niagara to fund a new theatre to be built alongside the new high school, Greater Fort Erie Secondary School. Each party has agreed to contribute $500,000 toward the $3 million cost to build a theatre, with a fundraising committee charged with the task of raising the remaining amount.
The 10-person committee consists of community members, Town staff and DSBN representatives including Louws and Ward 4 Coun. Marina Butler.
The fundraising campaign kicked off last July with a celebration at the Fort Erie Golf Club along with the presentation of a cheque worth $75,000 from the E.J. Freeland Foundation, a non-profit charity that annually provides scholarships to Fort Erie students.
Both the school and the theatre are set to open in September 2017 but the deadline to raise the necessary funds to pay for the theatre is September 2018.
Butler is “confident” in the project and her confidence continues to grow due to “a lot of calls and interest” as well as a number of individuals and businesses who have already hosted or plan to organize their own fundraising efforts for the theatre.
Butler said she and her fellow councillors have also committed to donating $1,000 each.
Louws and Butler want members of the community to save the date on May 14 for a Spring Gala Fundraiser at the Fort Erie Leisureplex, featuring local musicians and alumni of Fort Erie Secondary School and Ridgeway-Crystal Beach High School.
Other fundraising events include a summer music event at the Fort Erie Race Track, a food truck event, a Fork and Cork event and a golf tournament at the Fort Erie Golf Club with dates to be decided in the coming months. Louws said these events will likely be held each year for the next three years depending on their success.
All levels of support are welcome and those who make donations will be recognized. A donation of $1,000 to $2,000 will be given naming rights on auditorium seats or names will be display on a donor wall. Larger donations offer naming opportunities for the atrium, box office, and dressing rooms.