Get ready to take your seat at the Strathcona Performing Arts Centre.

Opening night is months away, and the lineup is still to be announced, but the Clayton Bellamy Foundation for the Arts has announced Strathcona Resources Ltd as its naming sponsor for the new venue.

Strathcona’s $250,000 gift brings the foundation halfway to its fundraising goal. Clayton Bellamy said the donation adds to the project’s momentum.

“[Strathcona] wanted something that made a splash and that was going to show their commitment to the area and the work they’re doing here,” Bellamy said. “They came in with that $250,000 donation, and now it’s going to be the Strathcona Performing Arts Centre for the next ten years.”

The overall project is not just to build the venue, Bellamy said, but to encourage and develop local talent. The foundation has partnerships in place with Grant MacEwan University and Portage College to deliver arts programming to the Lakeland and encourage young local artists.

“We’ve got a bursary right now available for graduates this year, $2500 to help our kids who want to go into post-secondary education in the arts,” he said. “And that’s going to continue as an annual bursary.”

Bellamy’s own career in country music began on the stage of the Lyle Victor Albert Centre in Bonnyville, performing at Bonnyville Country Opry nights. The Opry organization encouraged him with a $2500 bursary to study music at Red Deer College.

He says the Clayton Bellamy Foundation for the Arts was created to repay the gesture with annual bursaries to Lakeland youth pursuing a career in the arts.

“I carried that around, going ‘one day I’m going to return that gift that they gave to me.’ And that’s really what the whole foundation started out as. It just started out just with this bursary,” he said.

“The goal is to create the next generation of great artists coming out of the Lakeland, that’s where it started. And now it’s grown into building this theatre and everything else. But that’s where my passion came, really being able to repay that gift that was given to me and to pay it forward.”

Bellamy says the arts are a necessary part of a community’s recreation picture. He said the arts need people to advocate for them the way sports organizations speak up for their activities.

“There’s not a lot of advocates for the arts,” he said. “The hole that the Clayton Bellamy Foundation is filling is to be that voice, to say we need this and we can get it done.”

The foundation is hoping to break ground and start building the new facility early in 2023. They are working with architects now, and Bellamy said they intend to contract the construction work to local companies.

The economic spinoffs will continue long after the centre is built, he said.

“Now we’re building a world class theatre, we can bring in world class entertainers and world class dance competitions and so on. Hopefully that will bring in income for the area—ticket buyers and for hotels and restaurants and everything else. That trickle-down will be there for everyone.”

Ruth Isley (left) Clayton Bellamy receive a $250,000 donation for the Clayton Bellamy Foundation from Rob Morgan and Dan Iverson of Strathcona Resources. SUBMITTED