Actor spearheading alliance to represent and nurture local theatre
In a city that takes obvious pride in its cultural sector, it is rather odd that one of St. John's most vibrant arts - the theatre - doesn't have an organized industry association.
That's something Aiden Flynn and others like him are intent on fixing - with the creation of a Metro Theatre Alliance.
Flynn says he first posed the idea shortly before Christmas.
"It was an idea that I floated out to some people who are working closely with the Rabbittown Theatre and professionals in the community as a seed for thought for organizations and individuals."
His reasoning was simple.
"We're the only cultural sector that doesn't have an organized industry association. Subsequently, when issues regarding cultural policy come up, there's no unified voice for the theatre sector."
Flynn says there is a growing number of professional - as opposed to community - theatre groups in the city, and they need some guidelines by which to operate. His hope is that an association will not only give the public a clearer understanding of who is producing professional theatre in the city, but help the sector define itself as well.
He asked theatre professionals to gather at the Rabbittown on Friday to discuss his idea and put a game plan in place. Representatives presented themselves from organizations like Artistic Fraud, Resource Centre for the Arts and Shakespeare by the Sea, as well as individual theatre professionals like Danielle Irvine.
Together, they roughed in five proposed goals for the alliance: provide a unified voice for the professional theatre community on cultural and political issues; establish a campaign to promote professional theatre in St. John's; establish a campaign to expand the audience for professional theatre; create an awards showcase; and create a schedule for presentation in St. John's.
The alliance would also potentially liaise with the government.
"We're really not out to step on anyone's toes when it comes to funding that has already been allotted," says Flynn. "But what we would like to do is give smaller groups, emerging groups, even established groups a higher profile. So maybe there's some marketing potential there. And also, we'd like to have a say in how money is allotted for venues and cultural spaces."
Flynn also hopes the alliance will address the import/export problem he sees the theatre community as having.
"We have a reputation for exporting great shows, but we don't bring in a lot of work. We really need to bring up our game when it comes to presenting outside companies and works."
For now, Flynn and his group have decided to set up a steering committee and gather letters of intent from the professional organizations in the city.
"We're still trying to figure out what this organization will look like, what it will be, and how it will service the community. So we're basically just looking for expressions of interest at this time," he explains.
"We're going to take it slow and make sure we form this organization so as to meet the needs of everyone practising professional theatre in St. John's. … I think the next thing that you'll see will be an organization announcement as to who the directors might be, for example the steering committee. And from there, there'll be action items put in place."
People who still wish to become involved should contact Flynn at the Rabbittown Theatre, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 739-8220.