Ottawa’s Magnetic North festival eyes rebound after cancelled 2017 season

Magnetic North
Magnetic North

An Ottawa-based theatre performing company is looking to rebound after financial woes dimmed its lights earlier this year.

The Magnetic North Theatre Festival announced the cancellation of its 2017 season last March, citing an accumulated deficit that made it impossible to continue after a 14-year run. But after the previous board formally resigned last September, a new board is taking on the challenge of reviving the festival.

“There was a lot of concern because the festival really did play an important role in the community of performing arts across the country,” said Heather Redfern, one of the festival’s original founders who’s currently acting as chair of the new board.

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Since its inauguration in 2003, the festival was built on a model of travelling across the country, showcasing locally produced pieces of performance. Redfern said the model was especially important for artists in remote communities, who would get an opportunity to perform on larger stages and get their name in the public.

“This festival was created because there was a need for it, and it’s still worth fighting for and see if it could be saved,” she said.

The new board is currently in conversations with its creditors to deal with the outstanding debt, which amounts to about $240,000, Redfern said. They’ll also mount fundraising efforts to get enough operational funding before re-launching. The expectation is to be back in full action by 2019, she said.

There may also be need to rethink the mandate of the festival and give it a new direction going forward, Redfern explained.

“The festival is a fabulous networking experience for participating artists, but the format of how we do it and how it looks like could change,” she said, noting part of the revival process will involve community consultations across the country starting this November to hear what both artists and audiences want.

“It’s just like any other business. It’s not about keeping things the same.”

This article originally appeared in Metro News.

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