Keyano College representatives made a presentation to council Tuesday evening.
President and CEO of Keyano, Dr Trent Keough proposed a $15-million funding arrangement with the Municipality for a public art gallery and the existing theatre.
Council voted to refer the proposal to the administration for a detailed business case review.
They will also review the case as part of the 2020 Budget and Financial Plan.
Dr Keough said the investment would benefit the arts community.
“The capacity to partner with the RMWB and to redirect college money into programming will enable us to have deeper connections within the arts community.”
The $15 million would go towards refurbishing the theatre and building an art gallery, ceramics lab, and three new art studios.
The proposal includes $2.5 million per year over five years to cover theatre operations.
Also, it asks for $1.5 million annually during that time frame for the art gallery.
Without the funds, Dr Keough said the school could no longer operate the theatre as a non-teaching asset.
Moreover, there isn’t any money from the province, and Keyano can’t restore performance and visual arts programming.
Members of the arts community, including Arts Council Wood Buffalo, offered their support for the proposal.
In their letter of support, they said transforming Keyano Theatre and building the gallery would be beneficial for the community.
Under the partnership, Wood Buffalo students enrolled in the arts would have options.
Dr Keough adds those students could acquire credits for college while attending high school.
“The opportunity to finish a fine arts degree in Fort McMurray would likely keep more people here.”
He adds teaching the technical aspects of the fine arts at Keyano could also meet the needs of the art community.
As the relationship develops, students learning things like production, set design, and sound and lighting may fill those needs.
By supporting the arts, Dr Keough says it would show Canada and the world that Fort McMurray is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city.
“I watched a movement away from the humanities and the arts because more value was placed on income rather than [the] quality of life. People should live by their passion; if somebody’s wishes to be an artist, then we should give them the opportunity to make those choices.”
Council usually meets in November to discuss the budget.