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UVic venue receives federal funding for Indigenous programs, equipment

University of Victoria received $117,000 in all. The money will go to improved sound, video and lighting systems at Farquhar Auditorium and increased Indigenous programming.
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Chris Brittle, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Canadian heritage, announces support for specialized equipment and programming at UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium on Monday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The University of Victoria has received $117,000 in federal funding to improve the sound, video and lighting at Farquhar Auditorium and increase Indigenous programming.

The announcement was made by Chris Bittle, parliamentary secretary to Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, at the 40-year-old performing-arts venue on Monday.

Funds include $22,000 for the venue’s Voices in Circle: Amplifying Indigenous Cultural Voices series, and $20,000 earmarked for a Re-engaging Audiences Fund to help stimulate the return of events in the wake of COVID-related closures and restrictions on capacity.

The rest will go to auditorium upgrades through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. That includes new video equipment that will increase the ability to stream performances on the internet.

Farquhar Auditorium, named for former UVic president Hugh Ernest Farquhar, has 1,051 seats and is the third-largest performing arts venue in Greater Victoria. It also hosts convocation ceremonies at the university.

Bittle said it is the lone custom-built recital hall on southern Vancouver Island, providing much-needed cultural space for the community and a central point for the campus.

“Places like Farquhar Auditorium are key to sharing our stories and helping amplifying Indigenous voices,” he said.

Chris Horbachewski, UVic’s vice-president of external relations, said the university is committed to “truth, respect and reconciliation” and the creation of opportunities for inclusivity and diversity in the arts.

Horbachewski called the auditorium “a unique treasure” for artists and said it will benefit greatly from the new funding.

He said the Voices in Circle series is “an incredible example” of the work being done to support culture, and has gone beyond performances by offering discussion periods and workshops with Indigenous elders and artists.

“We know we can continue to contribute to the cultural sector, not only here in British Columbia but across the country, with opportunities for performances and engagements that reflect all voices,” Horbachewski said.

The Voices in Circle series is featuring a range of work that includes music, dance, comedy and burlesque. It began in September with Juno-award winner Jeremy Dutcher, and on Feb. 18 will present an Indigenous variety show with such performers as composer Ry Moran and storyteller Rebecca Hass.

jbell@timescolonist.com

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