Emily Carr University launches fundraising campaign with $7-million donation from Vancouver developer

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      Emily Carr University of Art + Design announced that it has received the largest monetary gift given ever to an arts university in Canada.

      At a news conference held on May 2 on Granville Island, Emily Carr University chancellor John C. Kerr talked about how the provincial government pledged $113 million for their project of building a new campus at Great Northern Way. The university aims to raise the remaining $25 million to meet their budget of $134 million through their official public fundraising campaign, The Big Idea, which was launched at the conference.

      Kerr announced that Reliance Properties has pledged $7 million to the campaign.

      "As someone who's worked on fundraising for a long time, I have to tell you a $7 million gift is absolutely incredible in the context of what we're doing," Kerr said. "This is the largest of its kind for Emily Carr and is an absolutely auspicious way to commemorate the public launch of this campaign….This is an exception level of philanthropy and sets a new standard for Canada and the arts."

      In recognition of the gift, Kerr said the new campus will feature the Reliance Lecture Theatre and the Libby Leshgold Gallery that will "will host events, programs, and exhibitions that enhance academic curricula and provide opportunities for community engagement".

      Emily Carr University president and vice-chancellor Ron Burnett said that these two features will be central to the new campus.

      "As we've been working with our proponents, so much of what we've had to do has remained intensely confidential. One thing I can tell you, however, is that the theatre and the gallery and the concourse together will continue to form the hub and the heart of the new campus."

      Vancouver company Reliance Properties has worked on local architectural projects for the past 50 years, including the restoration of heritage structures, artist live/work residences at the ARC and Railtown Studios, Burns Block microlofts, and West Pender Place.

      "At Reliance Properties, creativity, transformation, and legacy are themes that constantly run through our work," Reliance president Jon Stovell said at the conference. "In our business, we have been the most successful whenever we have been the most creative, when we have taken the greatest creative risks. Those creative risks have often involved developing homes and offices for arts and design communities."

      Emily Carr University associate vice-president of advancement and alumni affairs Broek Bosma told the Georgia Straight that they have raised $15 million thus far.

      "The timeline for the campus is based on the project board so we are in the process of raising the money and we need to have it raised by the time we are ready to move to the new campus so we feel confident we'll be able to do that."

      Student attendance has dramatically increased from 800 in 1996 to over 1,800 (in addition to 3,000 part-time non-credit students).

      Burnett said that Emily Carr University will celebrate their 90th anniversary next year.