One of the most popular additions to the architectural renewal of the University of Toronto’s downtown campus, the Isabel Bader Theatre has become a staple of the city’s film festival circuit, while also serving as a lecture hall, learning space for student groups, and venue for concerts, theatrical productions and conferences. While that busy schedule keeps the 500-seat theatre occupied during the academic year, it’s also available for rental. The lobby areas can accommodate around 250 people for a reception, with more room on the outdoor patio. Catering services for parties ranging from 30 to 500 people can be provided through the U of T’s Victoria University.
The cultural diversity of downtown Toronto is well reflected in the Isabel Bader Theatre’s calendar of events, which runs the gamut from stand-up comedy to avant-garde musicals to fashion shows, along with public lectures, modern dance performances and theatrical spectacles. When school is out, the space is dominated by projections on the big screen: Hot Docs, the Inside Out lesbian and gay film festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival have made this location the site of world premieres and quirky curiosities. The regional entrant in the Miss Universe Canada competition has also been crowned on Isabel Bader’s stage.
A $7 million philanthropic gift to Victoria University provided the impetus for building the Isabel Bader Theatre. Chemical magnate Alfred Bader dedicated the space to the memory of his late arts-loving wife. The space, though modest, is also strong of heart, and earned instant accolades for its imaginative design after opening in 2001. The theatre boasts the latest innovations in aesthetic and acoustical theatre design.