Decision needed on performing arts centre

By: By Wheel staff

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 04:28 pm

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Premier Alison Redfordís announcement upgrades to the 30-year-old Foothills Composite High School will go ahead is good new for students and the community. However, it means Okotoks town council and the Foothills School Division need to decide once and for all whether a long-proposed performing arts centre will be built at the school.

The premier announced the modernization at the Okotoks high school last week, giving the green light to the $28 million project to upgrade electrical and mechanical systems, and the buildingís exterior. The work may also involve improvements to the schoolís arts and technology programs. The work is expected to be finished by fall 2016.

The Foothills Composite/Alberta High School of Fine Arts has also long been considered as a site for a new theatre and arts centre for the community. Itís an idea whose roots stretch back almost two decades. Itís been the subject of professional studies and the Town of Okotoks and Foothills School Division signed an agreement in June last year to investigate the idea.

With the modernization work set to start, both now need to decide if they will partner to build a theatre at the school or not. If so, this is the best time to prepare the site for the eventual addition of a theatre to the school.

A performing arts centre is not at the top of town councilís priority list. Annexation, growth and water all take that spot, and rightly so, and work to draft up a business case for a performing arts centre could begin sometime around September.

It makes sense to build a theatre and arts centre at the school. It would benefit Alberta High School of Fine Arts students and provide a much-needed, larger performing arts centre for local theatre groups and concerts.

It doesnít need to be built at the same time as the modernization project, but itís a good time to decide if a theatre will go ahead at the school. There may be an opportunity to save some money on the future construction costs if the modernization project can be modified to include electrical work or other basic preparations to lay the groundwork for a potential theatre at the site.

If the Town of Okotoks and Foothills School Division really want to build a performing arts centre at the Foothills Composite High School, this is the right time so finally start working on it in earnest.


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