RDC excited to grow downtown

Acquiring City Centre Stage will allow Red Deer College to better serve its students, as well as the business community and the city as a whole, says college president Joel Ward.

Acquiring City Centre Stage will allow Red Deer College to better serve its students, as well as the business community and the city as a whole, says college president Joel Ward.

RDC’s board of governors agreed Tuesday to buy the downtown theatre building for $1.6 million. Ward said on Thursday that these new facilities will allow the college to undertake a number of initiatives with wide-ranging benefits.

Among these will be the hosting of a business speaker series, with high-profile presenters addressing audiences in the building’s 300-seat auditorium. Jim Harris, the Canadian author of the best-seller Blindsided, will kick off the series this spring.

Ward said the City Centre Stage building should also prove useful when the college’s Donald School of Business wants to assemble a large group of students, such as for a presentation by a local entrepreneur. “We didn’t have the capacity to do that before.”

The facilities could also be used by companies and other organizations, said Ward. With its auditoriums and reception area, and classroom space nearby in the Millennium Centre, the college can now satisfy the requirements for large business gatherings.

“For example, if Servus Credit Union wanted to have their provincial meeting, they could have it here at the Donald School of Business in our new facility.”

Other companies with offices in Calgary and Edmonton might see Red Deer as a good central location to meet, he suggested.

“We think we can attract some conferences, and provide some of the companies in Red Deer the opportunity to use our facilities for training and professional development.”

Ward also anticipates that the building will be used by RDC’s motion picture arts program, and by other performing arts organizations.

“We’ll be running a Red Deer film festival once a year, showcasing obscure films that most people wouldn’t see in Red Deer, as well as previewing student work in the film production program.”

Having City Centre Stage’s smaller theatre rooms will also take pressure off RDC’s Arts Centre Mainstage, which is too big for many of the performances currently staged there, said Ward. That in turn will free up the 600-seat venue on the main campus for other events.

The City Centre Stage building will be branded as an RDC facility, said Ward, with further naming rights possibly sold to a company to generate revenue.

Increasing the Donald School of Business’s footprint downtown is a positive step, he added.

“I think for us to be a successful business school, the closer we’re connected to the financial sector, to the banking sector, to the small to medium enterprise sector, the more valuable the experience is for our students.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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