Partridge family donates $1 million to arts centre
A rendering of the St. Catharines Performing Arts Centre.
A St. Catharines family with a decades-long history of generosity is kicking off the fundraising campaign for the new performing arts centre with a $1-million donation.
Peter and Janet Partridge, with their sons, Peter Jr. and John, and daughter-in-law, Poppy, were honoured at a luncheon to celebrate the announcement Tuesday.
Peter Partridge said he was delighted two years ago when he was asked to be the fundraising chair for the centre’s $5-million campaign because he is such a passionate supporter of the arts and because his wife, Janet, is a member of the Burgoyne family, known for its long tradition of supporting community projects.
“How could I possibly turn down the opportunity” to be part of something that will have a transforming effect on the city? he asked.
Partridge said as an organist and choral conductor, he has performed in every “church, chapel and banquet hall our fair city has to offer.” It was all “wonderful,” he said, “but it taught me that St. Catharines genuinely needs” the four new venues that will be part of the new downtown facility.
He said the city needs the centre both as a way to inspire the arts and as a way to rejuvenate downtown.
“Music will flourish, live theatre will thrive and films will be studied and celebrated,” he said. “Urban renewal will breathe new life that is so badly needed in our downtown core. It will have a transformative effect on our entire community.”
Partridge said he was also inspired “on a deeply personal note” by the philanthropic example of Janet’s family, the Burgoynes, former owners of The Standard, “who have done so much over so many years to give back to our community and create public amenities where once before they did not exist.”
Partridge introduced The Tenors, who sang “Lead With Your Heart” and “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen.
“You will love them here but wait ’til you hear them in Partridge Hall,” he said, referring to the new name of the performing arts centre’s biggest venue, the 775-seat concert hall.
Guests at the luncheon gave the Partridge family a standing ovation, but Partridge also put them on notice that they will be asked to give as well.
Partridge told them they had been invited because of their potential as donors, and said they will all be receiving follow-up phone calls.
“Think about what you can do and then do something about it,” he said. There are naming opportunities for donations of every size, he said later.
Arts centre executive director Steve Solski said the centre will have both a direct and indirect economic impact.
“This place will create jobs, this place will create wealth,” Solski said.
“Five years from now, you will not recognize downtown St. Catharines. I am thrilled to be part of it and I can’t wait to get this project started.”
Performing Arts Centre by the numbers
$60 million total project cost
600 events per year
125,000 visitors per year
500 Brock University students daily
Seven-day a week activity for 48 weeks of the year
20 full-time staff
70 part-time staff
To be built in conjunction with Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
By Marlene Bergsma, The Standard
What an incredibly generous offer from Peter Partridge and the Partridge family for a $1 mil dollar donation for the New Performing Arts Centre. I can say with much certainly that you won’t find a more genuine family in the city that is as down to earth, honestly interested in others and have a passion for this city. Three cheers to the Partridges!