The Canadian Opera Company’s staff campaign to raise funds for the building of their new home, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, was a success. A total of 130 staff, including the COC orchestra and chorus, production, technical, and administrative departments have contributed over $192,000 to date.
"We are absolutely bowled over by everyone's contributions," says Wendy McDowall, director of the COC’s Capital Campaign. "The fact that we far exceeded our $100,000 goal is a testament to the dedication and the generosity of all the people who work here. We couldn't do it without them."
The three-week campaign began with a presentation by members of the COC Capital Campaign team. The presentation included a construction update and a design update from architect Gary McCluskie of the award-winning Toronto-based Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc.
Once the campaign began, the co-chairs—Sandra Gavinchuk, COC music administrator, and Muriel Smith, Library and Resource Center assistant—along with COC campaign staff solicited donations from the entire COC "family," including staff and artists.
"We all realize that, besides being a cultural milestone for the city, this building is a showcase for our future, whether we sing in the chorus, sew costumes, come up with brochure copy, or work in the box office," Gavinchuk says. "This building is for all of us. And there are quite a few of us who have been waiting for a home for an awfully long time."
Some staff at the COC have been waiting for four decades to see this project come to fruition. "I remember when I first heard of the idea. It was in 1960 and we were performing at the Royal Alexandra Theatre…and because there wasn't enough room in the wings for all of us, we had to make our entrance from the alley outside," says Smith. "Herman Geiger-Torel, who was our director and one of the founders of the company, saw us out there and promised that one day we would have our own house. It's been a dream for so long, and here it is over 40 years later and it's finally become a reality!"
The COC's Capital Campaign goal for the Four Seasons Centre is $150 million. Currently the campaign is more than halfway to its target, with the campaign team targeting principal gifts—those in excess of $1 million. Although the COC does not have a permanent team of designers on staff, their donations still contribute to the Capital Campaign, which tracks individual donations, and is separate from the staff campaign fundraiser.
The project remains on time and on budget. In February, the horseshoe shape of the auditorium at the isolation level was formed. Next, the isolation pads to shelter the R. Fraser Elliott Hall from sound and noise vibration will be installed, and above-grade construction begins in the spring.