Campus LifeNews

Myer Horowitz officially reopens after three years of renovations

Renovations on the theatre were funded by the Sustainability and Capital Fund, an undergraduate fee.

On April 8, the Myer Horowtiz Theatre in the Students’ Union Building (SUB) officially re-opened. Theatre renovations began in 2021, with plans to finish in September 2022.

The University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU) financed the renovations with the Sustainability and Capital Fund (SCF). The SCF is a $25 fee U of A undergraduates pay every semester. The SCF aims to address sustainability and maintenance costs of student spaces by funding projects that prioritize environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

Before speeches commenced inside the theatre, a ribbon cutting ceremony took place. UASU President Christian Fotang cut the ribbon. Following Fotang, UASU First Nation, Inuit, and Metis (FNMI) Initiatives Specialist, Danni Okemaw, gave attendees the opportunity to smudge before entering the theatre.

“This moment is a testament to our student body’s resilience, creativity, and collective efforts,” Fotang says

During his opening speech, Fotang described the impact of the theatre’s reopening.

“This moment is a testament to our student body’s resilience, creativity, and collective efforts, and the broader U of A community. We are here to celebrate not just the space, but also the spirit of innovation, collaboration and cultural enrichment that it embodies.”

Fotang asked that attendees recommit to making the theatre and community “more inclusive, just, and respectful of the lands we occupy and the diverse people who call it home.”

“Let’s work together to create a future where stories, cultures, and the rights of Indigenous peoples are recognized and upheld.”

Elder Manniapik gives an opening prayer, speaks about her personal history

Following Fotang, Elder Myna Manniapik shared an opening statement and said a prayer. She gave the latter in her first language, Inuktitut. 

When invited to speak at events, Elder Manniapik said she likes to speak about her own personal history. Elder Manniapik lived in a traditional Inuit camp until the age of 11, when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) moved her community to Pangnirtung. There, Elder Manniapik said they had to “start a new way of life.” 

Southern Canadians continue to have a limited understanding of how Inuit peoples lived, Elder Manniapik said.

“I have high hopes that some or a lot of our Canadian Indigenous history will be displayed here on this stage.”

Next, dancers and U of A Native studies students Robin Hunter and Kenton Alook performed. Hunter performed an Old Style Jingle Dress Dance and Alook danced the Red River Jig.

President Flanagan speaks about former U of A president Myer Horowitz

Following the performances, Bill Flanagan, U of A president and vice-chancellor, spoke about the theatre’s namesake. Myer Horowitz was the the U of A’s ninth president from 1979-89.

When Flanagan was appointed as president, he said Horowitz was one of the first people who reached out.

“[Horowitz] was a wonderful, generous man and he wanted to offer whatever support he could to a new incoming president.”

When the university was developing the Student Experience Action Plan (SEAP), Flanagan said students asked for more welcoming campus spaces.

He said the theatre will “have an enormous impact on maintaining a really outstanding student experience.”

Former UASU president discusses SCF and the theatre’s renovations

Following Flanagan, Akanksha Bhatnagar, president of the UASU from 2019-20, spoke about the SCF. Bhatnagar helped come up with the idea to fund the theatre renovation through the SCF. In the 2020 UASU Elections, while Bhatnagar was president, the SCF referendum passed. 

“One thing was pretty clear. SUB and our student spaces needed … a sustainable makeover, one that mirrored the values that students had on campus,” Bhatnagar said.

Bhatnagar said the renovations incorporated many changes students wanted to see. She noted the increased accessible seating, gender-neutral bathrooms on all floors, improved audiovisuals, and reduced energy usage. 

“This theatre is built with students in mind,” Bhatnager says.

In an interview with The Gateway, Bhatnagar said the Myer Horowitz differs from other theatres on campus and in Edmonton because it’s student-run and funded. 

“Students know what they want best. This theatre is built with students in mind,” she said.

The sustainability aspect of the Myer Horowitz also differentiates it from other theatres, Fotang said in an interview with The Gateway. He noted that the renovated theatre has gender-neutral washrooms and solar panels. The history of the Myer Horowitz, which the UASU built in the 1960s, also sets it apart, according to Fotang.

“The theatre continues to be a reflection of the increasing and different needs of the student body.”

Dylana Twittey

Dylana Twittey is the 2024-25 Managing Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 News Editor. She is a second-year student studying history. In her free time, she enjoys watching 90s Law and Order, cooking, and rereading her favourite books for the fifth time.

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