“A good theatre designed to serve a multitude of functions increases the quality of life of the whole university community.” (1964 Planning Commission)

A Gathering Space For All
The 1964 planning commission for the Students’ Union Building recognized the real and urgent need for a campus space where large groups of otherwise unrelated people could unite in common activities and programs beneficial to all. The commission envisioned a core facility that could bring students and faculty together for election rallies, concerts, guest speakers, film showings, and so much more. 

“Almost every member of the Students’ Union will at one time or another use this facility.” (1964 Planning Commission)

Connecting Campus and Community
Since its opening in 1967 as the SUB Theatre (later renamed for Dr. Myer Horowitz, UAlberta President 1979-89), the Theatre has been a place where students can interact with the arts, engage in intellectual debate, and participate in community events. It is a key touch point for the University experience, often acting as a new student's first connection to campus. It’s where students can meet and learn from each other, and a place where exposure to new ideas and different cultures can broaden a student’s mind.

Beyond enriching the student experience, the Horowitz Theatre has also helped bring a spotlight to the University and its role in the intellectual and cultural life of Edmonton, Alberta, and Canada. By hosting a variety of contemporary events and cultural programs that appeal to both the University and larger Edmonton communities, the Theatre is a vital link between what happens on campus and the city that surrounds it. 

Meeting The Needs of Today
After more than 50 years of history as a key venue to our campus and greater community, the revitalization of the Horowitz Theatre includes many upgrades to the space that better meet the needs of today. With a focus on inclusivity, the renovated Theatre features improved seating options for accessibility, and new elevator access to the lower level, main floor, and second floor on the east side of the Students’ Union Building. The new Theatre also adds several all-gender washroom facilities, including the third floor which previously had no facilities. 

The Horowitz Theatre renovation also includes technical upgrades to the space that offer even more opportunities to host great events that add enjoyment to the student experience, and connect the University to the greater community. These upgrades allow the Horowitz Theatre to operate more efficiently, which means we’re able to offer lower ticket prices to students so that even more of our campus community can gather here.

“It would not represent prudent planning for the future, however, to curtail through shortsightedness any possible use of theatre - even if the use will not be fully realised for years.” (1964 Planning Commission)

Shaping Student Leaders 
The 1964 SUB planning commission envisioned the Theatre as a flexible space that would bring honour to the University of Alberta through the high quality activities it would generate and its role in broadening students’ minds. SUB was intended to play a key role in the development of students as active, engaged citizens and leaders, with the Theatre as a core facility to serve this need.

“Traditional concepts in theatre design are…too inflexible for our purposes. New solutions…must await some new and creative thinking.” (1964 Planning Commission)

Looking to the Future
For the past 50 years, the Horowitz Theatre has helped bring a spotlight to the University and its role in the intellectual and cultural life of Edmonton, Alberta, and Canada. In that time, environmental sustainability has been a growing concern to the Students’ Union and the community we represent. Through this revitalization, the Theatre has benefitted from new solutions in today’s technology to help reduce the environmental impact of operating the facility, while continuing to position the space as a premier event venue.

The renovations to the Horowitz Theatre are projected to reduce overall energy use by 43% compared to the previous design. Highlights of these improvements include:

-Over 200 kW of roof and wall-mounted solar panels to help power the Theatre and the Students’ Union Building. This accounts for more than half of the energy savings alone.
-House and stage lights upgraded to LED fixtures with automatic controls.
-Optimal thermal zoning and programmable thermostats.
-Upgraded heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
-Water-conserving plumbing fixtures in the renovated gendered and all-gender facilities.     

“Finally, it must be noted that the opportunity students have to control their own finances and
affairs, both presently and in the new building, marks one of greatest contributions being made to the University as a whole by the Students' Union.” (1964 Planning Commission)

Powering the Students’ Union
As a non-profit organisation, the University of Alberta Students’ Union is able to fund a wide variety of programs and services for the undergraduate student community in part through revenue generated by the businesses it owns and operates. As a UASU-owned venue, the Horowitz Theatre plays a vital role in bringing revenue to the Students’ Union to be reinvested in supporting the student community.

As one of the few performance spaces in the area with nearly 700 seats, the Horowitz Theatre has historically filled a specific niche within the larger Edmonton arts and performance community, hosting a wide array of performers and programs appealing to both campus and the community at large. Prior to its revitalization, the Horowitz Theatre routinely booked upwards of 250 events annually, with a combined attendance of approximately 100,000 patrons. 

Investing in Tomorrow
With the spatial and technical upgrades to the Horowitz Theatre, this venue is better equipped to host even more events each year, as well as support a greater variety of performances and programs than the space previously allowed. This translates to a larger margin of revenue that will be reinvested in the UASU’s services and programs for students. Finally, a more efficient Theatre space means that students can also benefit from student-friendly ticket prices, reducing a potential participation barrier in our community.

The Horowitz Theatre renovation also presented the opportunity to install a new electrical vault to support the current upgrades to the venue, and more easily handle future advancements in technology. The new electrical vault safeguards not only the continued operation of the Theatre, but also the entire Students’ Union Building and the businesses and services that students access here.

The official ribbon-cutting of the beautifully renovated Horowitz Theatre is scheduled for April 8, 2024. Please join your UASU and key partners in re-opening our flagship venue, take a tour of the renovated space, and enjoy some light refreshments.