CASA opens its doors

The City of Lethbridge, Allied Arts Council of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge are excited to announce the Grand Opening of CASA, a truly functional 42,000 square foot arts centre with a striking building design.

CASA is the realization of a 20-year dream, shared by many in the Lethbridge arts community, to expand or replace the Bowman Arts Centre and provide a home for the arts in one central location.

"I am very pleased to participate in today's celebration, which will usher in new opportunities for Lethbridge and southern Alberta's artistic community," says Jim Hillyer, Member of Parliament for Lethbridge, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification.

"Worthwhile projects such as this create jobs and encourage economic growth, while also providing Canadians with valuable cultural spaces."

Funding for the $20.69 million project includes $6 million from the Building Canada Fund – Communities Component (with $3 million provided by both the Federal Government and Alberta Transportation under BCF-CC), $14.4 million from the provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative (administered by Alberta Municipal Affairs) and $200,000 from the City of Lethbridge.

"We're pleased to support local priorities and build communities through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative," says Greg Weadick, Associate Minister of Alberta Municipal Affairs and MLA for Lethbridge-West.

"Facilities like CASA bring together families and neighbours while they enrich lives, entertain and create more vibrant economies."

CASA will allow for students of all ages to learn and explore many different mediums of art, drama, music, dance, yoga and more. It will become home to many local groups and events.

After the 11 a.m. Grand Opening, and for the remainder of the week, special events will be taking place in the evenings, with a Party On the Plaza from noon until 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 18. This community festival is free and will include many local musicians and entertainers, from the Lethbridge Community Taiko Association to the U of L Conservatory of Music.

Other events during the week include dance, theatre, film, the inaugural CASA art exhibit opening and the music of Oscar Lopez.

The University of Lethbridge Conservatory of Music has numerous events planned that showcase both the new facility and their diverse programs.

U of L Conservatory information, including program registration and upcoming events listings, can be found at this website.

"Our local arts community has been waiting for this day for a long time. For decades to come, this new arts facility will be a significant cultural and economic asset for downtown Lethbridge and for the entire community," says Mayor Rajko Dodic.

Along with the Allied Arts Council, who will be overseeing the facility, the University of Lethbridge is also a major partner with its Music Conservatory moving to this facility.

"We are extremely proud of U of L Music Conservatory Director Peggy Mezei and her team, and their achievements as they move in to CASA's bright and beautiful space," says Dr. Mike Mahon, the U of L's President and Vice-Chancellor. "Our commitment to the community takes on many forms, and being such an integral part of the CASA group is something we are very pleased to be a part of. This new facility will be of great benefit to our present and future Conservatory students, and also to the many members of the arts and culture community who use the facility to express their own creativity."

The Rotary Clubs of Lethbridge have also provided support to the project which has led to the naming of the Rotary Plaza, the location of the festivities on Saturday, May 18.

CASA will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 pm. on Sundays. Classes and workshops, including the opportunity to try "sampler" classes for a nominal fee, will begin the week of May 20.

Information on Grand Opening Week events as well as information on classes, workshops, facility rentals and the University of Lethbridge Music Conservatory can be found at the CASA website.