Building the future of fine arts at York

The York University Foundation has raised the curtain on a $10-million fundraising campaign for the University’s Accolade Project.

Now very visible on the south side of the Common on the Keele campus, the Accolade Project will be a vibrant new centre for fine arts education in the Greater Toronto Area, offering state-of-the-art facilities for Canada’s future artists and performers.

The $107.5 million construction and renovation project, featuring two premier buildings flanking the existing Fine Arts complex, is funded by York and the Ontario government, and now backed by enthusiastic donor support.

Right: From left to right, broadcaster and Accolade host Jeanne Beker, benefactors Ivan Fecan and Sandra Faire, and campaign chair Martin Goldfarb

“This is going to be an amazing facility, where Canada’s most promising students in the visual and performing arts can cultivate their talent,” said Martin Goldfarb, Chair of the Accolade Project Campaign Committee, and benefactor of the existing Joan and Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts at York. 

Goldfarb, president and chief executive officer of The Goldfarb Corporation and a veteran marketing specialist, announced the new $10-million fundraising goal at a special event Monday evening organized to recognize significant donations from the community. Broadcaster and onetime York theatre student Jeanne Beker, seen globally on Fashion Television, hosted the celebration.

“Community support has already been highly gratifying – so much so that we are now doubling our fundraising goal to $10 million, after reaching the $5-million initial target from key donors sooner than expected,” said Goldfarb.

The Accolade Project has also been chosen as the beneficiary of the Brazilian Carnival Ball annual gala, to be held on May 13, 2006. The ball celebrates its 40th anniversary next year.

Phillip Silver, dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, said Accolade will transform fine arts education at York. “Thirty years after York launched the first Faculty of Fine Arts in Canada, we are finally bringing our seven departments all together in one dynamic cluster,” said Silver. “This will set the stage for tremendous synergy between all of the different artistic disciplines. I expect remarkable results.”

Right: The exterior of the Accolade East building

Designed by Zeidler Partnership and Bregman + Hamann Architects, the 358,000-sq.-ft. Accolade Project includes a 325-seat proscenium theatre with orchestra pit, a 325-seat recital hall and integrated recording studio, a 500-seat cinema-lecture hall, a performance halls lobby, a student-run art gallery, new dance studios, and specialized music studios, as well as many new classrooms for general University use. The celebrated Art Gallery of York University will also have a prominent new location in Accolade. Classrooms in the Accolade West building will open this fall, with studio, performance and exhibition facilities in Accolade East slated to open in January, 2006.

“This superb facility is being built because leading patrons of the arts believe in York’s special contribution to fine arts education in Canada,” said Lorna R. Marsden, president and vice-chancellor of York University. “Martin Goldfarb’s dedication to this dream is inspiring, and the philanthropy of the donors who have given so much to this project is truly admirable.”

Left: The exterior of the Accolade West building

Among the most generous donors to Accolade through the York University Foundation are Tribute Communities, with a gift of $2 million; Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan, with a gift of $1 million; and CIBC, whose donation of $1 million to York University will support the Accolade Project and student scholarships and research. An original work by internationally-renowned artist and York professor emeritus Ron Bloore was presented to these donors.

A number of other supporters were also honoured at Monday’s event. They included: Robert and Julia Foster, Barry and Joy Gales, Elaine and Jimmy Kay, the Lambert family in honour of the late Allen T. Lambert, York’s president and vice-chancellor Lorna Marsden, The John McKellar Charitable Foundation, The McLean Foundation, the Mirkopoulos family and Cinespace Film Studios, Lata Pada and Hari Venkatacharya, and TELUS.

For more information about the project, visit the Accolade Project Web site.