A vision for arts and culture downtown
This article by Naniece Ibrahim was originally published in the commemorative 2017 edition of UWinnipeg Magazine.
Harry Strub is a psychology professor and music aficionado who arrived at United College 1966, one year before UWinnipeg was established. His vision, passion, and commitment changed the musical landscape for the campus and the city — making both into destinations for the world’s finest classical artists, while providing performance opportunities for countless local musicians.
Shortly after his arrival, Strub and other new hires attended a dinner in Riddell Hall, along with the entire faculty and staff complement. “This small-campus atmosphere remains one of UWinnipeg’s most treasured features, even through our extraordinary 21st century expansion,” he said.
Strub was a big fan of the University’s MAD committee, made up of music, art, and drama, which became the MA committee after a theatre program was established. In 1980, he became chair of MA and began producing free lunch-time concerts in a lecture theatre, as well as art shows in the library’s Hamilton Galleria. The lecture theatre housed the University’s old Steinway baby grand piano, which was used in many recitals before Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall was established in 1993 with a new nine-foot concert-grand Steinway.
In 1986, the University accepted the MA proposal to establish a campus art gallery (Gallery 1C03), with a professional art curator* to run it, The MA committee became the M(usic) committee.
After producing some major evening concerts at off-campus venues, the Music committee morphed into what is now Virtuosi Concerts and the Skywalk Concerts & Lectures Series in 1990. The Virtuosi series was co-presented by CBC, with most concerts taped for national broadcast. Both series continue to symbolize the University’s dedication to cultural and community programming.
Strub believes all faculty and staff serve as UWinnipeg ambassadors: the Skywalk series is a showcase for UWinnipeg’s faculty, and serves as a community outreach initiative offering accessible arts and educational programming at the Millennium Library. The Skywalk series became so popular — with over 2,000 patrons annually — that the nearby overhead pedestrian walkway was officially renamed “The Skywalk”.
With Strub’s leadership, both programs have enhanced the quality of the arts in the city and UWinnipeg’s reputation as a centre of cultural excellence. Their success is reflected in their longevity and continued growth over the last quarter of a century.
*In 1978, UWinnipeg President Henry Duckworth appointed Patricia E. Bovey as the University’s first art curator.