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Italian language and culture receives big boost in Faculty of Arts

Fogolâr Furlan di Calgary donates $50,000 following premiere of Pirandello play


From left to right: Richard Sigurdson, Dean Faculty of Arts; Loretta Biasutti, Secretary Fogolâr Furlan di Calgary; Sonia Bertolissi, President Fogolâr Furlan di Calgary; Zina Rosso, Treasurer Fogolâr Furlan di Calgary; April Viczko, Division Chair Drama; Bruce Barton, Director School of Creative and Performing Arts Photo courtesy Tasneed Rahim

By Heath McCoy
December 7, 2016

The Faculty of Arts was the recipient of a generous donation for $50,000 last Friday evening (Dec. 2) from the Fogolâr Furlan di Calgary, an Italian-Calgary association that is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The donation was presented at post show reception following the premier of Six Characters in Search of an Author by Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello, performed by the University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) at the Reeve Theatre.

Fogolâr Furlan di Calgary committed $10,000 to sponsor the SCPA production while also donating $40,000 to establish an endowment that will support fourth year students majoring in Italian in the new School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures (SLLLC).

“We want to support Italian language learning and culture in Calgary as much as possible,” said Sonia Bertolissi, president of Fogolâr Furlan di Calgary, an association whose members originate from the northeastern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. “In turn, the Italian community in Calgary has always supported the Italian program at the University of Calgary. It’s very important to us and we want the university to know that we value them for helping to keep our Italian heritage active, vibrant and alive.”

Luis Torres, division chair of Spanish and Italian Studies at SLLLC expressed his appreciation for the gift, which will provide scholarship opportunities to students of Italian for many years to come.

“To my knowledge this is the biggest donation the Italian Studies program has ever received and it’s very special that this comes in the inaugural year of the new School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures,” said Torres. “We’re very impressed with the Fogolâr Furlan di Calgary and we’re happy and proud that they chose our students for this funding. It’s an honour.”

Bruce Barton, director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) said that donations such as the one provided by the Fogolâr Furlan di Calgary are vital to the school. “The cost of a student performance is substantial, particularly when we are committed to high performance values, and this type of support allows us to attempt otherwise impossible levels of innovation.”

Barton added: “Beyond this, the school is committed to cultivating meaningful relationships with a broad range of Calgary communities, and this donation is a powerful expression of the relevance of creative practice within our city’s cultural fabric.”

Six Characters in Search of An Author runs thru Dec. 10. Tickets can be purchased via scpa.ucalgary.ca