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Community Theatre Summit

Workshops by Request: Rocky Mountain Series
Photo Credits

March 23-25, 2018

This workshop was presented in partnership with Calgary’s Alliance of Community Theatres (Calgary-ACTS)

The Community Theatre Summit was a long-overdue opportunity for all of Alberta’s community/amateur theatre companies to network and grow together. Our community theatres play a vital role in towns and cities across the province, but they are often limited in resources and isolated from each other. Summit participants will be inspired and learn best practices for the “business side” of producing amateur theatre through keynote presentations, breakout sessions, and group networking opportunities.


White Man With Medium Length Brown hair and Rectangle Frame Glasses Looks at Camera


Community Theatre Practices in the Professional Era

Dr. Robin Whittaker joined us as the opening keynote speaker. He has practiced, researched, and taught drama, theatre, and performance studies in Toronto, Waterloo, Edmonton, Ottawa, and now Fredericton. Dr. Whittaker’s keynote will speak to the current state of community theatre, its needs, and the place of non-professionalizing theatre practices in the professional era. Dr. Whittaker is a director, playwright, educator, and former artistic director of Edmonton’s Walterdale Theatre Associates and Belligermint Ink. Dr. Whittaker is currently Associate Professor of Drama and Drama Advisor at St. Thomas University University in Fredericton NB.

Filipina Woman with Curly Hair and Glasses Smiles and Looks Into the Camera

Equity and Diversity in the Arts

Gina Puntil and Theatre Alberta’s own Keri Mitchell presented on equity, diversity, and inclusion in a community theatre setting. Gina has been involved with social active theatre in Alberta for the past 19 years. She is the Artistic Director and Program Coordinator for the Alberta Workers’ Health Centre’s Work Plays Schools Program, bringing the important message of workplace safety and worker’s rights wrapped in a professionally sculpted artistic presentation to students and young workers. Gina and Keri have both completed artEquity’s prestigious Facilitator Training Program. artEquity provides tools, resources, and training to support the intersection of art and activism, and champions equity-based initiatives under the fundamental idea that ‘art can not exist without community, and community can not exist without justice.’


Who Cares? Building Buzz for Your Community Theatre 

White Man and White Woman In Business Clothes Look at CameraDarka Tarnawsky and Joshua Semchuk from Bottom Line Productions
talked marketing for community theatres; how to tell your story by opening doors, building bridges and leaving a trail of digital breadcrumbs for new audiences. Bottom Line’s mission is to provide strategic marketing services to arts, cultural, entertainment and not-for-profit clients in Alberta and beyond. Darka is founding president of Bottom Line and has been involved in the industry for over 30 years. She is a Distinguished Alumnist of MacEwan University and a longtime faculty member of its Arts & Cultural Management Program. Joshua is an Avenue Top 40 Under 40 alum and has worked in communications, marketing, and strategic management and planning since 2002. His experience is in theatre, dance, film, events, and visual art, including his former role as communications manager for the Citadel Theatre.

Breakout Sessions and Panels

Participants chose to attend breakout sessions from topics that include:

  • Season Planning and Programming with Robin Whittaker (Theatre St. Thomas, NB) Sean Anderson (Morpheus Theatre, Calgary) and Miranda Baker (About Time Productions, Camrose)
  • Skilled Volunteerism with Annand Ollivierre (Volunteer Alberta)
  • Funding & Finance Fundamentals with Barb Mah (AFA), Heather Kitchen (Banff Centre), and Allison Moore (Business for the Arts)
  • Succession Planning with Kristen Finlay (Walterdale Theatre, Edmonton), Theo Thirsk (Churchmice Players, Camrose), Alan Roberts (Keyano Theatre, Fort McMurray), and Allie Spicer-Riess (River Valley Players, Drayton Valley)
  • Governance Basics with Kate Wood (Government of Alberta)
  • Data Management – Who Want’s to Be a Hero? with Doug Easterbrook (Arts Management Systems)
  • Social Location Understanding Power Hour! with Gina Puntil (Alberta Workers’ Health Centre) and Keri Mitchell (Theatre Alberta)
  • Social Media Strategy with Beverly Theresa (Hello Beverly)
  • Adjudication – The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback with Trevor Rueger (APN), Mary-Ellen Perley (ADFA), and Tracy Carol (Independent, Edmonton)

Group Networking

Saturday afternoon was dedicated to a group forum for all participants. Fringe Theatre’s Adam Mitchell facilitated the opportunity for our community theatre groups to discuss with their peers the challenges they face in their organizations.

A Few Dozen Attendees of The Rocky Mountain Series's Community Theatre Summit Pose For a Photograph Outside in Banff With Mountains and Trees Behind Them

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