Conrad Family Foundation Donates Performing Arts facility to City of Kitchener

By: Kw Now Local News
| Published 01/15/2021

Manfred Conrad: “We are honoured to be gifting the Centre to the City of Kitchener.'
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Conrad family donation supports Kitchener’s bold vision to boost arts and creative industries

'Conrad family donation supports Kitchener’s bold vision for the arts.'

Kitchener – Earlier today, the City of Kitchener announced that the Manfred and Penny Conrad Family Foundation and Manfred and Penny Conrad have donated the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts facility to the City to support the performing arts in the community. This donation will allow the City to support and boost local artistic and creative talent and strengthen this robust sector that contributes significantly to the local economy and quality of life in the region. The 24,000 square foot performing arts facility is located in Downtown Kitchener at 36 King St. W., and is a key component of realising the City’s Make It Kitchener 2.0 vision for both a strong creative industries sector and a vibrant city.

“Kitchener is extremely thankful to the Conrads and their foundation for this remarkable donation to our community. This cultural facility will play a pivotal role in continuing to build and transform both our downtown and Kitchener’s vibrant arts & cultural community,” said Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “Our community recognizes the transformative power of the performing arts and how they add to the quality of life of our residents. As we all look forward to connecting with each other once again post-pandemic, this remarkable gift to the residents of Kitchener will enable us to ensure that our cultural sector is poised to flourish in the coming decades.”

Originally called the King Street Theatre Centre when it was built in 2001, the Manfred and Penny Conrad Family Foundation purchased the building more than a decade ago. Including a flexible 300-seat theatre, versatile rehearsal hall, and administrative offices, the Conrad Centre has been home to the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony since 2009 and has hosted many music and theatre performances as well as meetings, fundraisers, workshops, and seminars over the years.

“We are so proud of what the Centre has become - it’s wide and diverse artistic offerings that were intimately housed in such an incredible space. The Centre created so many great opportunities for connecting and enriching our community through music and the arts,” explains Mr. Manfred Conrad. “We are honoured to be gifting the Centre to the City of Kitchener to continue on this trajectory of enriching our community through the arts. The Conrad Family Foundation’s philanthropy has always centered on giving back to the community and making the arts central to its charitable giving.”

At this time, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is not known when the space will be able to return to full use, but the City will be engaging with arts and culture leaders and stakeholders to learn how the building can serve as an even greater asset to the local arts and culture practitioners as we build back better for our future.

“There are so many live performance producers and artists in this community doing world-class work,” said Emily Robson, Manager of Arts & Creative Industries. “This donation presents an opportunity to ensure that this incredible facility remains available to performing arts groups and artists, supporting them in bringing transformative, engaging, and exciting experiences to our community.”

The City of Kitchener also owns the building THEMUSEUM currently operates out of, the connected Duke and Ontario parking garage and recently acquired 2 King Street West (former BMO building). In addition, the City of Kitchener’s performing art spaces already include the Aud, the Centre In the Square and the Registry Theatre, which is operated by JM Drama Alumni.