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The Banff Centre

Rolston recital hallThe Banff Centre has grown to be one of the most respected educational facilities for the arts in all of North America. It was founded in the 1930s in response to a growing number of local and amateur theatre communities across the province. A slump in the economy had caused many touring theatre companies, so popular in the previous decade, to go under, prompting local groups to take their place. Ned Corbett, head of the University of Alberta's Department of Extension saw the situation as dire, and felt that a facility was needed to train local actors. Having received a $30,000 grant from the Carnegie organization, Corbett established a traveling arts development program in 1932, hiring Elizabeth Sterling Haynes to teach. In the first year, 190 students enrolled paying $1 each.

The program grew in popularity with each year, and within 10 years, the school had expanded into other areas besides theatre. Founders of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet proposed the addition of dance classes to the curriculum and in 1947, their offer was accepted. 10 students were enrolled in the first year, rehearsing in the basement of one of Banff's public schools.

Banff International String Quartet Competition.The Centre was one of the only places in Alberta to offer French instruction in 1941, followed by the addition of other languages to the curriculum such as Russian and Spanish in 1961, and German in 1963. Due to cutbacks however, all language programs were cancelled in 1977.

Musician Jens Lindemann.The opera program began in 1949 with the hiring of Royal Conservatory of Music singing instructor Ernesto Vinci. This attracted 28 students in its first year, culminating in the Centre's first operatic production, performed three years later. The tradition of fine music continues at the Banff Centre with a number of programs now being offered, including music theatre, which was introduced in 1981.

Besides the performing arts, the Centre offers a number of courses for artists of all disciplines. Programs in new media arts, ceramics and literary arts are held. Writers are able to attend a six-week course that offers support and instruction for published and professional authors."Tibet-Cry of the Snow Lion".

While the first structure was built in 1947, the official Banff Centre campus is now home to dozens of arts related programs that attract students from around the world. The facility includes classrooms, rehearsal areas, living space and an art gallery. Many of the buildings are unique to the Center and reflect it's own creative atmosphere. While artists are able to rehearse in conventional areas, they also have a chance to use the Elsie K, a fishing boat turned studio, suspended amongst the trees in Banff National Park.

'Best Adventure Travel Book'.The Centre hosts a number of festivals each year including the Banff Mountain Film Festival and the Banff Summer Arts Festival where all manners of expression are showcased in an event that is growing to international stature.

The Banff Centre hosts programs and special events throughout the year and is a certified public post-secondary institution. Its operations are funded by grants from Alberta's Ministry of Learning and the federal departments of Canadian Heritage and Human Resources Development.

The Banff Centre also offers extensive programming in leadership dvelopment and mountain culture, and hosts a world-class conference facility.

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