The Theatre Arts Committee was convened for the second time this year by the Hamilton Arts Council as part of our renewed mandate to promote critical dialogue in our creative community.
This last meeting of the 2012 TAC on May 1 was attended by Luke Brown (Theatre Aquarius), Jason Dick (Hammer Entertainment), Margaret Houghton (Players Guild of Hamilton), Colette Kendall (Staircase Theatre), Ray Louter (Redeemer University College Theatre Dept.), Shirley Marshall (Binbrook Little Theatre)
Brian Morton (Hamilton Fringe Festival), Stephen Near (Independent Artist | HAC staff), Richelle Tavernier-Clements (Hamilton Theatre Inc), Judith Sandiford (Artword Artbar), Sally Watson (Dundas Little Theatre), Ronald Weihs (Artword Artbar)
1) Agenda & Minutes: The Committee discussed the Agenda and reviewed the Minutes from the last meeting (January 31st, 2012). Stephen mentioned that he would like to hold future meetings of the Committee at other theatre venues around the city. Colette also briefly spoke about the Elaine Mae Theatre; a new performance and workshop space now used and rented out by the Staircase.
2) OAC Grant Workshop: Stephen announced that the HAC will host a theatre project grant workshop featuring a discussion with Ontario Arts Council Theatre officer Pat Bradley. There is a growing number of theatre artists in Hamilton and a desire on the part of the OAC to see them apply for funding. The workshop will take place in the 1st Floor theatre space of the Pearl Company, 16 Steven Street on June 2nd, 2012 @ 1 PM.
3) Theatre Guide 2012-13: The Committee discussed the issue of this year’s HAC Theatre Guide. Stephen stated that he would like to involve the Committee in the creation and format of the Guide to a greater degree than previous years. He noted some proposed changes including a larger print run and a widespread distribution model. He did note, however, that more advertising and sponsorship will be needed to make this possible.
- Concerns - There were concerns about the resolution and detail on the map as well as the inclusion of editorial content. The Committee suggested an open call for editorial content or an editorial board might be a option this year. The disparity between the advertising needs of established theatres with seasons vs. rental theatre venues with no fixed season was also discussed. The present print-run and distribution model is a pressing issue for all companies. The idea of publishing the Guide three times a year (fall, spring, summer) was discussed as a means to help distribution and make room for more editorial content. Unfortunately, HAC resource limitations make such a model unfeasible right now.
- Redesign – The Committee also discussed strategies on redesigning the Guide. Stephen clarified that the Guide was always meant to advertise theatre within the Hamilton region. The Committee suggested that the Guide might simply be (re)printed through-out the year and filled with an insert featuring up-to-date shows at the rental venues. It was also suggested that linking the Guide with an online calendar. In this case, the ad buy for participating companies would include a banner on the hub website and a link to their individual sites. Jason suggested a radical redesign to the Guide in the form of a tri-fold calendar of shows with minimal ad-space and brief listings of the companies. This format would be more cost effective and might also resolve the distribution model.
- Purpose – It was agreed that the Guide should be something for patrons to pick-up and refer to throughout the year. Most Committee members agreed that they’d like to see the Guide continue but retooled in such a way as to make it more responsive to their needs. Ron raised the point that the Guide is more than just advertising a theatre season… it is creating the impression and serving the reality that Hamilton is a destination for theatre. To that extent, perhaps it should have more informative and provocative editorial content.
Stephen wrapped-up the discussion and strongly urged the Committee to provide further ideas or suggestions via email before the next meeting.
4) Panel Audition Days – Theatre Aquarius is holding a series of panel audition days onJuly 14th – July 15th @ the Studio Theatre. Aquarius hope to allow Hamilton performers the opportunity audition for a broad range of area directors/producers/playwrights. It will also allow different theatre producers to see prospective performers that might be suited for an upcoming show in advance of general auditions. The Committee was enthusiastic about this opportunity to showcase some of the hidden talent in Hamilton. More details will be forthcoming from Aquarius as the dates get closer.
5) New Business
- Hammer Entertainment – Jason announced that Hammer Entertainment is moving from their present venue at the Lyric Theatre to the Citadel Theatre (previously known as the Downtown Arts Centre). Their upcoming 2012-13 season will take place here and feature the following line-up: Next to Normal, Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings, Grey Gardens, and Avenue Q. The company is looking forward to the move and anticipate it will benefit the production needs of their season next year.
- Theatre Season Overlap – The issue of season overlap was discussed by the community theatre Committee members. They all agreed that planning for the upcoming seasons takes place in January but due to contentious dates and scheduling of rehearsals, sometimes overlapping cannot be helped. Stephen offered to create a shared season planning calendar for use by all Committee members either online or at the HAC offices. Such a calendar would allow the Committee to see what dates are being used by the other members.
- Venues – Brian talked about the closure of Sir John A. MacDonald and the potential loss of the school’s large theatre space. The Committee also discussed City Council’s deliberations on ownership and use of Hamilton Place and the question of programming more theatre in the venue.
6) Next Meeting – the next meeting was tentatively scheduled for June 19th, 2012 with a location yet to be determined.
The Theatre Arts Committee will continue to meet regularly throughout 2012. Inquiries about this committee of the Hamilton Arts Council can be forwarded to Stephen Near at firstname.lastname@example.org.