Fred and Elizabeth Fountain
Generosity sets the stage for Dal's School of Performing Arts
May 14, 2013
There’s nothing unusual about joyful noise filling the halls of the Dalhousie Arts Centre — for Music and Theatre students, that’s just an ordinary school day.
But the euphoric cheers that careened off the walls of the Sculpture Court the morning of April 14, marked an extremely special occasion: the announcement of a new Dalhousie School of Performing Arts, supported by a major gift from two of Halifax’s greatest benefactors.
“It is my sincere pleasure and honour to announce that Fred and Elizabeth Fountain have chosen to invest $10 million in the School of Performing Arts at Dalhousie University,” announced Dal President Tom Traves, to rapturous applause.
The School will bring together the Departments of Music and Theatre as a single academic unit. With everything from costume studies and acting to music performance and musicology now under one banner, the $10 million gift will support a wide variety of cross-discipline initiatives. These include a high-profile visiting arts program, more robust scholarship support, and expanded outreach and mentoring programming.
The gift is the largest ever to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and one of the largest in Dal’s history.
“This is much more than a change in an academic administrative unit,” explained Robert Summerby-Murray, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. “This is a change that has vast consequences for us at Dalhousie, for Halifax and, I’d suggest, for Nova Scotia and Eastern Canada.”
For the Fountains — Fred, Dalhousie’s chancellor, and his wife, Elizabeth — the donation continues a long legacy of giving to the university, as well as to other causes in education, the arts and mental health.
“Fred and I wanted to do something special for Dalhousie for the Bold Ambitions campaign; it was just a question of what that special something would be,” explained Ms. Fountain. “It had to be meaningful for us, it had to be transformative and it had to benefit not just a few, but many people. And we feel our gift to the School of Performing Arts achieves all three of these goals.”
Mr. Fountain also expressed his gratitude for Dalhousie’s commitment to undertaking much-needed renovations to the existing Arts Centre, including a planned expansion, which will help further the new School’s goals.
“We’re very happy to do something dramatic and sonorous here at Dalhousie,” he said.