Festival Hall Centre for the Arts is a non-profit organization located in the Upper Ottawa Valley dedicated to the provision of high quality theatrical and artistic experiences in a variety of forums for both citizens and visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
MANDATE - ACHIEVING THE MISSION
Festival Hall Centre for the Arts fosters artistic, heritage and historic awareness in the production of diverse, quality, professional entertainment including live theatre, music, dance, storytelling, comedy, visual arts and educational programs. Its 600+ seat theatre with a storied 35 year history allows people to attend and participate in live theatre locally, enhancing quality of life, celebrating and contributing to the spirit of the community. Cultural and economic development go hand in hand. During the past five years, under the knowledgeable guidance of Rick Wharton, improvements to this performance venue have furthered the profile of the community which draw audiences and performers from other areas for many generations to come. Tourism and economic development have been stimulated with a tenfold increase in the number of events. Community partnerships have been formed and existing and past relationships repaired.
Festival Hall is managed by Eventure Entertainment. Visit www.conspiracyguy.com to learn more about Eventure and Rick Wharton, Managing Director.
Renfrew County, the largest of Ontario’s counties, is one of the most diverse and historic areas in Ontario. It stretches from the outskirts of Canada’s capital, Ottawa, and along the shores of the historic Ottawa River, to the northern tip of Algonquin Park. The County encompasses 17 municipalities and includes Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Chalk River’s Atomic Energy of Canada, Algonquin College’s state of the art Pembroke waterfront campus, and First Nations communities. A strong community spirit lends itself to the many unique arts opportunities in the area, which is home to Canada’s largest international fiddling and step dancing competition and a number of arts, cultural and theatre groups. These groups are examples of the tenacity and visionary qualities of its folk who have long had a history of survival despite economic struggles. Its citizens remain proactive and take an active involvement in its ongoing development of industry and tourism. Growth in Pembroke, Petawawa and Laurentian Valley has put the area on the road to prosperity. Looking ahead, the future of this community - with its enviable location, natural resources, visionary entrepreneurs and committed citizens - is bright.
HISTORY OF FESTIVAL HALL - BEHIND THE SCENES
Festival Hall, the largest performing arts centre in the Ottawa Valley, is the area's showcase for a wide variety of cultural events spotlighting both local and visiting talent. This 600 seat theatre is host to music, dance, theatre, recitals, lectures and fine art exhibits for audiences of all ages, reflecting the rich cultural diversity of the Ottawa Valley. Opening thirty eight years ago in 1979, it was managed by an outside group for the past twenty-seven of those years. In 2012, a new vision for the Theatre has revived its stagnant status quo, creating an arts space that is beginning its rebirth as a vibrant venue. Festival Hall is home to Streetlight Theatre Company, Pembroke Symphony Orchestra, Kiwanis Music Festival, UTurn and the Sears Drama Festival. A number of other user groups including dance troupes, Algonquin College Speaker’s Series and independent promoters also make use of the facility. During the past two years the Director has also brought film, variety shows, the Canadian Comedy Awards Funniest Person in the Valley Semi Final, plays, speakers series, Sing a Longs, Salute to the Troops and many other events to life in the theatre.
The Centre for the arts and its theatre form part of what is now the Equinoxe School property. It is leased by a municipal Consortium (joint venture of the Town of Petawawa, the City of Pembroke and the Township of Laurentian Valley) and its operations were previously outsourced to a not for profit contractor to provide management services. The Theatre has grown from a volunteer and sponsor driven organization to one which has full time staff in addition to its host of volunteers. Its growth makes it necessary to move from an Operational to a Results Based Business Model in addition to gaining its own governance independent of the mandate and mission of any management service contractor.
In the past five years, under the leadership of Rick Wharton, Director, the following improvements have been made: new façade on box office, painting of entrance and three floors of the theatre, television in lobby, ticket system, new volunteers, profitable canteen, bar and popcorn stand, new washrooms, new Curtains, stage, Staging/Light/Fly Bar Rig, new Emergency Lights, new Sound Board, LED lights, breaker panels and switches, new Movie Screen , new dressing rooms, new programming including first ever documentary film festival and new attitudes! All of this was done with very little budget, the commitment of the school board and Wharton's contacts in the entertainment industry.
Prior to May 2012, the hall housed an average 6 productions/rentals a year. From May 2012 to May 2017 total amount of theatre patrons will reach over 80,000 who have enjoyed over one hundred productions. Stats show that 31 percent of attendees have come from outside the area, lending itself to tourism and economic development.