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Local theatre managers get trip to England for UK presenters’ conference


ANNAPOLIS COUNTY, NS - The managers of the two theatres in Annapolis County have been given a unique opportunity to discover how rural theatre presenters operate across the pond in the United Kingdom.

A four-day conference the week of June 25 will expose them to European talent and immerse them in workshops and other professional development experiences.

Both the Evergreen Theatre in Margaretsville and King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal are long time members of the Atlantic Presenters Association, an association of most non-profit presenters in Atlantic Canada, be they theatres, festivals, or allied organizations.

APA offers services to presenters, including block booking of travelling performing artists, seminars and workshops on best presenting practices and much more. Their annual keynote event in late September is Contact East, a three-day showcase and networking event that moves to a different location every year with St. John’s getting the nod this year.

“There is always a sprinkling of international delegates at Contact East, including a strong British cohort, and many tours of the UK by artists showcasing at Contact East have resulted,” said Evergreen’s David O’Leary.

This year APA decided to return the favour and will be sending a delegation of Atlantic presenters to a British rural presenters' conference in Worchester, a few hours drive from London, in late June. Offers to participate were made to O'Leary at Evergreen and Janet Larkman at King’s and both happily accepted.

The trip is sponsored by Canada Heritage and Larkman said she and O’Leary were honoured to be invited.

O’Leary credits APA as a very strong influence in his development as a presenter.

"When I joined APA back in 2005, which was six years after the Evergreen's first show, I was a real rookie in the theatre presenting world,” he said. “Being able to meet and network with other presenters and participate in multiple training opportunities inspired me to bring as much professionalism as possible to the Evergreen.”

O’Leary’s efforts paid off in a major way, giving the tiny venue a big reputation.

“Our growth from a local folk music club in the late nineties to a full-service theatre with a great reputation across the province was definitely fuelled by what I experienced at many APA events across the years.”

Evergreen became a favourite of many award-winning musicians who return to the old church time and again.

“I must have been a good learner as I was chosen the Professional Presenter of the Year by APA in 2015, and our theatre's history was very important in loosening governmental and other purse strings to allow the major renovation of our facility in late 2017," O’Leary said.

Larkman is looking forward to the conference and what it can do for King’s Theatre.

“We are going to be exposed to theatre productions, dance, and music from across Europe -- artists that are interested in touring in Canada,” said Larkman. “We’ll also be meeting up with theatre managers from around the UK and other places in Europe. We’ll be exposed to all kinds of best practices. We’ll be participating in workshops and professional development opportunities and it will be an amazing time to learn from other folks and hopefully bring home some acts that we can present in the coming year or years.”

Like Larkman, O’Leary is quite excited to be off to Worchester and has decided to spend a week in London following the conference to see how it has changed since his last trip there in 1975.

No doubt much music and theatre will be on his agenda that week.

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