The Morinville Community Cultural Centre marked its fifth anniversary on Saturday, a significant community milestone that no one appears to have remembered or taken notice of. Granted, free admission to family and children’s entertainment was heralded as being in honour of that wooden anniversary, but recognition of the actual anniversary sat woodenly like a log at the bottom of a woodpile. Neither the Town of Morinville’s Facebook page nor that of the Cultural Centre itself had a single mention of the milestone. Even a 120-character Happy Birthday Cultural Centre tweet might have sufficed.
But an anniversary did occur.
After several soft openings, including the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours event, the Town of Morinville’s Volunteer Appreciation Night, and the Art of Conversation’s Canyon Rose Outfit concert, the Morinville Community Cultural Centre had its official opening five years ago this past weekend. A formal gala evening took place on the Saturday night with a formal dinner, presentations and entertainment. Sunday afternoon saw the official ribbon cutting ceremony and the doors swung wide open to the community at large.
The Saturday night gala was attended by representatives from Alexander First Nation. Tony Arcand performed a smudging ceremony to purify the centre on its opening and Alexander also provided some of the evening’s entertainment with the Kipohtakaw Singers.
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the facility’s grand piano, a musical centrepiece that was donated to the cultural centre by the Morinville Rotary Club, who also sponsored one of the facility’s meeting rooms.
In keeping with the Community Cultural Centre’s slogan “It’s ours,” seven-year-old Leah Mrochuk, a then first-year piano student, was given the honour of being the first to play the high-end piano. Her rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star was given the same enthusiastic response as the piano’s next performer – Jeremy Spurgeon of Pro Coro Canada.
That variety of use was displayed on the Sunday afternoon during the public opening when hundreds of Morinvillians got to see the facility for the first time. The afternoon’s entertainment included face painting and a stilt walker for the children, art and photography, and plenty of local and regional entertainment. Performances included the Edmonton Pipe Band, Morinville Minstrels, Darrin Hagen, Caviar Players, Dance Connection and the Francophone band Allez Ouest.
But beyond the entertainment, speeches and ribbon cutting, residents had the opportunity to tour the 26,000 square foot facility originally anticipated to cost $12 million, but which was built for $11.2 million, much of that funded through matching grant money from the federal and provincial government.
During the Sunday grand opening community party five years ago, then-Mayor Lloyd Bertschi said the Community Cultural Centre was a project six years in the making, one that began when the convent property was sold, leaving many of Morinville’s community groups without a place to meet.
“This is a wonderful facility, a great addition for our community,” Bertschi said at the time. “I firmly believe that a strong arts community is strong and fundamental to a well-balanced and long-term sustainable community, which we are making sure Morinville is.”
Five years later, the facility that Bertschi and his team built has seen hundreds of local and travelling performers cross its stage. It’s seen our community’s heroes and champions applauded and recognized, and its seen the community come together to lend a voice to the direction the community should travel.
We know a fifth-year anniversary show was planned for the facility – it was one of the shows announced last season, and one of the two shows The Morinville News chose to sponsor this year. It was to be an opportunity to celebrate and recognize a half decade of arts and community by assembling Morinville and the region’s best and brightest artists on the stage. Somewhere along the line, the plans changed.
So we will say here in these closing words what we might have said this past weekend had a show occurred as originally planned. “Thank you to all who have entertained us and inspired us with your art over these past five years, and thank you for keeping arts and culture at the forefront of our community.”