UTSC engages the community at the Leigha Lee Browne Theatre through student theatrical productions, dance performances, concerts by world-renowned musicians and conversations about arts and culture. Discussions and screenings of history on film, presentations and exploration of cultural pluralism in the arts, and performances by professional and student choirs, drama clubs and dance groups showcase the rich diversity of experiences that can be accommodated here. Programming developed with the community brings the city to UTSC.
Before it was a theatre, the space was a television studio designed to broadcast lectures throughout the campus. When the Science and Humanities Wings—the campus’ original building—were completed in 1966, a complete 6,000 square foot (560 square metre) television studio was included as part of a plan to develop and transmit closed-circuit lectures, a pedagogical program that was so innovative it warranted the attention and cover of Time Magazine in a 1967 issue. In an era that could not have foreseen the rise of the Internet or personal computer, students and faculty rejected the use of television as a teaching method, arguing that it increased the distance between teaching and learning, and anticipating issues of intellectual copyright and new media that we debate today.
The studio was renovated by one of Canada's foremost theatre architects, Robert Smith, transforming the space to an intimate performance venue with adaptive seating for up to 110 audience members. Opened in 1993 and named to honour Leigha Lee Browne, an inspirational UTSC drama instructor, the theatre is an important hub for arts and culture for UTSC and for the community.