Arts centre a source of pride for Dolter family

Cory Hurley
Published on February 19, 2014

There were emotions of joy and excitement, accompanied with the realization that the Corner Brook Rotary Centre would come to fruition.

The guarantee comes with the $362,000 investment from the provincial government that was announced by Premier Tom Marshall Wednesday in Corner Brook. It represents 40 per cent of the capital for the project — a refurbishment of the basement of the new Corner Brook City Hall.

With 40 per cent federal funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), 10 per cent Canadian Heritage funding and 10 per cent funding raised through the arts centre board, construction will begin in the next month for an anticipated mid-to-late summer opening.

There was some mixed emotions within the group though. Although purely related to the joyous occasion, Mike Dolter — who is chief administrative officer for the City of Corner Brook — was overcome with sadness when reflecting upon what the moment would have meant to his late sister Tina Dolter.

In the back of the Hutchings Room at city hall, after the crowd thinned, tears welled in his eyes and rolled down his cheek as he talked about her drive to make the vision of this centre a reality.

“It’s wonderful for her to be recognized, because she was such an advocate of the arts, and for visual artists in particular,” he said. “I think she would be overwhelmed by having a gallery named after her, but obviously the circumstances are not what we would want them to be.”

Tina was a strong lobbyist for bettering the arts community, never one to back down from demanding more government funding and programs. However, Mike and his brother Sean Dolter also played roles through their involvement in the Rotary Club of Corner Brook.

Mike said he took a back seat to the work of city staff on this project, to avoid any conflict, but was president of the Rotary club during a time when the project was being pushed. Sean also served as president of the club and is a board member for the centre committee.

The community support eventually expanded to the government support — both provincial and federal that was needed to make the 100-seat theatre, art gallery, studios and exhibition space a reality. For somebody who lobbied for that kind of support, Mike said his sister would have been quite emotional herself on a day like Wednesday.

Meanwhile, with the capital funding now covered, thought quickly turns to operational funding to make the centre viable for well into the future.

David Smallwood, chair of the Corner Brook Arts Centre Association, estimates that annual cost — including salaries and expenditures such as utilities — will be less than $100,000. The rent, heat and light, is being donated by the City of Corner Brook.

“We have already planned for that, and we think it is attainable,” he said.

The association hopes to raise money through the use of the theatre and rent for the various facilities, various naming rights, and benefactors. Smallwood believes there would be additional government funding available once the centre is operational.

Smallwood said it is important now for the community to puts its support behind the centre, and the arts community that will utilize it.

“I would hope that the results of this would be held by the citizens of Corner Brook as a place of pride, that they will want to support it and see its value — not only to their own lives, but to their childrens’ lives, to the development of the artist in us all, to tourism and economic development,” he said.