About the Shadbolt

An award-winning, multi-purpose community arts facility in beautiful Deer Lake Park

The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts (SCA) is a stunning 3,252 sq. m (35,000 sq. ft.) wood and stone facility, offering spectacular natural views from its windowed studios, atrium and exterior raised terrace.

SCA was designed in 1995 by the international firm of Hotson Bakker Architects and received the prestigious Canadian Wood Council Award of Merit for the building's creative design in 1996.

Owned and operated by the City, the building is named after internationally acclaimed painter Jack Shadbolt and his wife Doris Shadbolt—curator, author and art educator. It houses a recital hall, theatres, dance and pottery studios, music rehearsal rooms and more.

We offer a year-round schedule of live performances, festivals, exhibitions and special events ranging from theatre and music to dance, literature and the visual arts.

We are also a community resource and support artists through our Artist in Residence Program. Artists have access to studio spaces and rehearsal rooms, including ceramics studios, kilns, visual arts and music studios, dance and theatre rehearsal spaces.

On average, over 250,000 people visit the centre annually.

The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts is a centre for excellence in the fine and performing arts. We endeavour to serve the citizens of Burnaby by offering multiple opportunities for participation, observation and involvement in various arts events.

We respond to the needs of the community by:

  • offering professional arts events
  • offering educational opportunities
  • creating opportunities for established and emerging artists to develop and present their work
  • making available the services of our professionally trained teachers, technicians and administrators
  • providing a high calibre, accessible rental facility for community-based groups
  • presenting a varied program of activities, including many free festivals, classes, art events and volunteer opportunities
  • promoting and managing the facility as a friendly and nurturing place where all are welcome

The SCA provides 3 areas of core programming: theatre presentation and rentals, arts learning, and festivals and events.

From September to June,  we present a live performance season in our two theatres—the James Cowan Theatre (capacity 285) and the Studio Theatre (capacity 165)–featuring the best of local, national and international talent across the performing arts.

In arts learning, SCA provides visual and performing arts programs for children and adults. Special workshops, adjunct program activities and weekly classes are offered in music, dance, visual arts, ceramics, theatre and literary arts.

In 2010, we built the BC Spirits Square next to the centre, which now houses the City’s first piece of public art—carved stone monoliths by Coast Salish artist Thomas Cannell.

Doris and Jack Shadbolt married in 1945 and moved to Burnaby in 1950. Individually, they made significant contributions to the art community regionally, nationally and internationally.

Doris Shadbolt (1918–2003) was born in Preston, Ontario and was a Fine Arts graduate (Honours) from the University of Toronto. She held positions at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada before moving to BC. She joined the Vancouver Art Gallery, where she worked for 25 years—first as Director of Education, then as Chief Curator and Associate Director. She was known as the driving energy behind many of its more adventuresome programs and exhibitions. As an art historian and author, Doris wrote numerous articles and books and served on many national boards and councils. She's also the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Order of Canada in 1976.

Jack Shadbolt (1909–1998) was born in England, grew up in Victoria and moved to Vancouver in 1931. After years of travel and study, he began teaching at the Vancouver School of Art (VSA). He worked at VSA for 25 years as the head of the drawing and painting department. Jack was well known as a lecturer and writer on the creative process in art and advocated contemporary art attitudes. An internationally recognized Canadian painter, he's represented in Canadian and American public, private and corporate collections. His work has been included in many international exhibitions. He has a long record of solo exhibitions, including a retrospective at the National Gallery in 1969, which toured the country. He wrote two books on art and a collection of poems with drawings. Jack also received many awards, including the Order of Canada in 1972.

James Cowan bought land in Burnaby in 1919, after serving overseas in World War I. The property on Gilpin St is not far from the theatre that now bears his name. The theatre was known as the James Cowan Memorial Hall until 1971 before it was renamed the James Cowan Theatre.

The Cowans lived on Gilpin St between 1923 and 1955. James took an active interest in community affairs. He was a founding member of the Valley View Ratepayers Association and a member of its council. He also helped present many briefs to the council concerning the development of the community.

In 1955, the Cowans moved to 4449 Percival St. Mayor Emmott was so impressed with James' contribution to the community that he had the theatre named after him a few days before James died in 1967.

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