About Festival Antigonish
Festival Antigonish has established an inspiring legacy as a premier summer repertory theatre in Atlantic Canada. With a history that spans three decades; a patron base that includes thousands of Nova Scotians as well as regional, national, and international tourists; an acclaimed reputation as a local economic and cultural anchor; and an artistic commitment to excellence, we are proud of our successes and we are committed to growth. Each summer, we bring together the best artists from across Nova Scotia and beyond to create an award-winning Main Stage series, a Family Stage show, and other innovative artistic presentations. We are housed in the intimate Bauer Theatre on the campus of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS.
Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre is committed to developing an understanding and appreciation for theatre within the community through the production of high quality professional work. Within this mandate we strive to create a supportive environment for Nova Scotia artists to hone their talents and present, produce and develop new work. The repertory nature of Festival Antigonish supports a balanced selection of Canadian and International works, providing an opportunity for established and emerging theatre artists to take on new challenges. The Festival’s artistic choices emphasize the legitimacy and unique character of Nova Scotian Theatre, and provide all age groups in the community with access to a range of theatre.
Artistic Mission Statement
We want to produce theatre that is perceived both by our audience and by theatre practitioners as:
• Well produced and of fine quality
• Responsive to our lives as members of the community of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and of the wider world
• Challenging and yet entertaining and accessible to our key regional audience
• Providing stimulus for thought and ideas as a truly integral part of our community’s cultural life
A Brief History
Established in 1987, Festival Antigonish is located at the Bauer Theatre on the campus of St Francis Xavier University. We have an air-conditioned 220-seat auditorium and an atmospheric bar. We are committed to developing the considerable theatrical talents of Nova Scotians and each year we bring together some of the best writers, actors and directors to produce a Main Stage Series and a Family Series. We sell 11,000 tickets annually and we enjoy a well-deserved reputation for high-quality work. Festival Antigonish has grown strong roots in the community and serves as an anchor attraction for regional tourism. We are a registered charity supported by the federal and provincial governments through the Canada Council for the Arts and the Nova Scotia Culture Division and by the respective Councils of the Town and County of Antigonish.
1990 • The Festival wins a Council for Business and Arts in Canada competition.
1994 • The Late Night Series premieres Daniel MacIvor/Daniel Brooks’ Here Lies Henry.
1995 • Subscriptions double and a $700,000 Capital Campaign is launched.
1996 • The renovated Bauer Theatre is opened by Premier John Savage.
1997 • 10th Anniversary with record-setting season of 9 plays, 38% increase in attendance.
1999 • First Operating Grant from Canada Council. New Play Reading Series, in cooperation with Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre. The Late Night Series features new works by Bryden MacDonald, Wanda Graham and a special remount of Daniel MacIvor’s Marion Bridge.
2005 • Under new Artistic Producer Ed Thomason and Administrator Madonna Van Vonderen, the Main Stage Series is augmented from three to four productions including a new version of Strindberg’s Miss Julie commissioned from David French. In December, the Ottawa Citizen places Festival Antigonish in the top five summer theatres across Canada.
2006 • With funding from ACOA and Canadian Heritage, a rehearsal space is adapted into a 60-seat studio theatre/café. Featuring visiting companies and artists, and weekly Showcase evenings for local writers and performers, Stage 2 is an immediate hit with the targeted Under-30’s audience. Two Main Stage productions, Educating Rita and Good Things travel for one week to the Al Whittle Theatre, Wolfville – a successful first-time experiment, well received by the local audience.
2007 • The Festival Antigonish Foundation is successfully launched with inaugural pledges standing at $401,000 by season’s end. The Foundation will disburse earnings from an endowment fund annually to the theatre’s operating budget.
2009 • The Festival Antigonish Foundation receives $165,650.17 from Canadian Heritage’s Endowment Incentive Program, representing a 74c-to-the-dollar matching contribution on the $229,000 requested which was the amount raised by the Foundation in 2007-08.
2010 • A successful application to Canadian Heritage’s Cultural Spaces program partnered with ACOA provides $196,097 for a ‘state of the art’ upgrade of lighting and sound systems at the Bauer, to be completed by March 31st, 2010.
2011 • The Festival Antigonish Foundation receives $36,017 from Canadian Heritage’s Endowment Incentive Program, representing an 82c-to-the-dollar matching contribution
2012 • Festival Antigonish completes a successful 25th season and launches the ‘Encore Fund’, a flexible plan for annual donors, to sustain 25 more years of professional, high quality theatre.
2014 • The Festival Antigonish Foundation Endowment Fund reaches $800,000.
2015 • The Main Stage production of Lungs is presented at Neptune Theatre.
2016 • After a year of strategic planning, a new management team is hired. Andrea Boyd becomes Artistic Director, and Reema Fuller is engaged as the new Managing Director.
2017 • Festival Antigonish celebrates 30 years, with a 30% increase in theatre attendance, doubling of season-pass holders, and 25% increase in sponsorships.
2018 • Festival Antigonish’s Merritt award winning production of Little Thing, Big Thing is remounted by Neptune Theatre for its 2018-19 season.
2019 • Festival Antigonish produces its first ever culturally-diverse Main Stage production with A Brimful of Asha by Asha & Ravi Jain.
2020 • Ian Pygott retires after 33 years as Production Manager/Technical Director. Ingrid Risk joins the team as Production Manager.
Other Relevant Information
Our commitment to nurturing up-and-coming performers, production staff and cultural managers is integral to the success of Festival Antigonish. Professional guidance in a variety of skills, including performance, set and lighting design, construction, and stage management is a key element of our undertaking. Over our twenty-five year history the roster of established professional artists who have benefited from early opportunities for development includes Daniel MacIvor, Richie Wilcox, Emmy Alcorn, Judy Joe, Zeph Williams, and Ingrid Risk. By creating opportunities for the next generation of theatre professionals, Festival Antigonish contributes not only to the success of our own company, but to the continued growth of Canada’s theatre sector.