The University of the Fraser Valley’s theatre productions may have a change in venue in the years ahead, but UFV’s commitment to the Chilliwack community and Fraser Valley as a whole is as strong as ever.
“Our new $40-million expansion project at Chilliwack’s Canada Education Park houses a 100-seat studio theatre, classrooms and faculty offices for our Theatre program,” said Leslie Courchesne, director of UFV marketing and communications. “We look forward to continuing to offer theatre courses and productions at this new location, as well as talk about the potential to perform at community theatres in Chilliwack.”
UFV’s current performance theatre is on its Yale Road campus. This campus is for sale, but UFV intends to lease-back the performance theatre from the buyer for up to five years. This means UFV theatre productions will continue in that theatre as well, likely through 2015.
UFV’s Theatre program consists of minors and extended minors in the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Fine Arts, as well as a two-year diploma. Over the past five years, UFV’s theatre program has ranged between 48 and 61 full-time-equivalent students annually.
“The health of the Theatre program depends on increasing the number of students in it,” said Courchesne. “To ensure the program remains viable, we intend to offer much of our Theatre program in both Chilliwack and Abbotsford in future years, enabling students in complementary programs such as English and Visual Arts to also take theatre courses. Long-term, we aim to offer productions in more Fraser Valley communities as well.”
The Fraser Valley has been very supportive of UFV’s Theatre program over the years, donating approximately $150,000 for initiatives such as the Best Seat in the House campaign in 1994/95, theatre equipment, and theatre student bursaries. Approximately 70 percent of the donations came from the Chilliwack community, including a $27,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Chilliwack.
“We are extremely grateful for the past community fundraising, and for the ongoing support of our Theatre program and other donations,” said Courchesne. “Not only has the Chilliwack community invested in us, but we are also investing heavily in Chilliwack. With the opening of our new building at the CEP in May, and a new health and wellness focus to the campus as the home of our new Faculty of Health Sciences, Chilliwack will receive a substantial net gain in courses, programs and students over the next few years.”