Myer Horowitz Theatre renovations likely to receive $7.35 million in donations

According to a consulting group, the Students’ Union has a good chance of meeting its fundraising target of $7.35 million for the Myer Horowitz renovation project.

During the April 11 session of Students’ Council, Vitreo Group, a Calgary fundraising development firm, delivered their interim feasibility report on the Students’ Union’s plans to raise $7.35 million in donations for the Myer Horowitz renovations, which is half the total cost of the project. The group was contacted in January to test the feasibility of that target.

Estimates for the total cost of renovating the theatre increased from $11 million to $14 million following further research into the project. The Students’ Union plans on paying for the renovations with a combination of money from students, grants, and donors. According to the timeline, the interior renovations are projected to be completed by January 2019, and exterior renovations by December 2020.

For their ongoing feasibility study, Vitreo Group aims to interview 30 to 35 potential donors, including Students’ Union alumni and members of the arts community on how they perceive the Students’ Union, their thoughts on the renovation project, and their willingness to donate. So far, the group has conducted 24 interviews, with nearly 60 per cent of the interviewees being former Students’ Union Executives.

Mick Mulloy, Senior Associate at Vitreo, cited the lack of a comprehensive alumni database as the reason for the study’s delay. He expects the rest of the interviews to be complete by the end of the month.

“(The Students’ Union) has never done this before,” he said. “You don’t have a detailed database of the people who might be supporting you, so this process has been lengthier that would be typically the case.”

While their study is incomplete, Mulloy’s preliminary assessment was positive. He believes the Students’ Union will be able to meet their fundraising target.

“Based on the 24 interviews we’ve done so far, not everybody is supportive of the project but most people are,” he said. “In part because (the theatre) does need work and in part because it’s recognized as that bridge between the community and the university.”

The Students’ Union will also benefit from the positive experiences of their alumni, Mulloy said.

“They know that the Students’ Union really launched them into their careers,” he said. “We know that most of the people that we’ve interviewed so far would probably contribute to a campaign if they were asked for the money by the right person for the right project at the right time.”

Vice-President (Operations and Finance) Robyn Paches says that with Vitreo Group’s assistance he feels hopeful about the project’s success, and that ideally the majority of the funding will come from donors instead of students. Paches also said while the Students’ Union’s main mission is to serve students, a revitalized theatre will benefit both students and the community.

“The benefit to the community is not mutually exclusive and will happen if it’s renovated,” Paches said.