UFV theatre programs moving to Abbotsford

Live performances to begin in the fall at university's main campus.

The UFV Theatre regularly puts on public performances.

The UFV Theatre regularly puts on public performances.

The University of the Fraser Valley is moving all of its theatre programs, including its performances, to the Abbotsford campus.

The programs had been based out of UFV’s Chilliwack north campus, which had included a theatre. Although the bulk of that campus has since been torn down and classes moved to a new campus on the south side of the city, the theatre has so far remained.

But in a post on a blog last week, the university announced that all programming and shows will move to Abbotsford this fall.

“The move consolidates UFV College of Arts programs at the Abbotsford campus and is required to increase enrolment and foster connections between theatre and a wide variety of undergraduate programs at UFV,” spokesperson Dave Pinton wrote in the release. “The relocation will also help link performance-based learning with many other disciplines at the Abbotsford campus.”

And while there may be a sense of loss to theatre-goers in Chilliwack, the move is generally considered a positive one for faculty, students and the broader arts department.

“Overall the staff are really excited about this,” according to theatre department head Heather Davis-Fisch. “We are really all quite enthusiastic about the move, and we really think it’s going to benefit our students both in the program and across the university.”

The move of the program comes as no shock to anyone close to the department, as it was first announced — causing some consternation — more than five years ago.

The university says some details are still being formulated, and that “preparation and renovation of space to accommodate studio and classroom-based theatre activities” will take place over the summer.

“The decision to move the program was announced a number of years ago. We thank our community supporters, sponsors, faculty, staff and students for their patience during this time of transition,” said Jacqueline Nolte, dean of the College of Arts at UFV. “The move will help the program evolve toward an emphasis on performance-based learning that is integrated with the bachelor of fine arts, the newly approved bachelor of media arts, and other arts programs on the Abbotsford campus. This will ensure accessibility to a greater variety of students across many disciplines.”

Live performances will begin in Abbotsford next fall. Long-term, the university hopes to make the theatre program a key part of its Digital Hub project. The university says the $30 million project is its top capital priority. It would require $20 million in provincial funding.

– with files from Paul Henderson/Black Press