Inman Takes a Bow

Confederation Centre of the Arts regrets to announce that CEO Jessie Inman is resigning to pursue educational opportunities and spend more time with family.

“It has been a real pleasure and honour to be CEO at the Centre and this has been a very difficult decision,” says Inman. She goes on to say, “We have such wonderful dedicated staff and I’ve enjoyed leading the organization and working with them over these years.”

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Born and raised in St. Catherines, Prince Edward Island, Inman began her career at the Centre in 1976 as an administrative assistant. After working in western Canada and abroad for over two decades, Inman returned home to become the Centre’s first female CEO in 2011.

“It is with great regret that I have accepted Ms. Inman’s resignation,” says Wayne Hambly, Chair of the Board of the Fathers of Confederation Buildings Trust. He goes on to say, “For over six years the Centre has made great strides with many successes under her leadership, not the least of which is the total rebuild of the theatre, the world premiere of a major Canadian musical, Evangeline, and a strategy to continue to create and produce original Canadian musicals. The very successful Dreamcatcher program with our Young Company just this past year allowed us to undertake an important response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report. The Centre has also presented the works of many significant Canadian visual artists during this time and expanded and solidified our heritage programming under Ms. Inman’s leadership.”

The board will immediately begin the search for a new CEO to be in place upon Inman’s departure. Inman’s resignation takes effect on July 25, 2018.

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Supporting Emerging Artists

Confederation Centre of the Arts is pleased to announce that the RBC Foundation continues to support the Art Gallery’s Emerging Artist Program.

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“We are thrilled to renew our long standing partnership with Confederation Centre of the Arts,” said Mary MacInnis, Community Manager with RBC.  “This important program does more than advance the careers of these emerging artists, it helps build vibrant communities and strong economies. We are looking forward to taking in the exhibitions – we know they will be excellent.”

The RBC Emerging Artist Program has been a highly successful element of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery’s exhibition program. RBC has been providing support for the program since 2009.  The $15,000 donation will fund year two of a three year commitment.

“With RBC as a funding partner, the Art Gallery is able to offer young emerging artists their first major exhibition in a public art gallery, giving them access to a professional curator, installation and conservation support, and media exposure,” said Confederation Centre’s CEO Jessie Inman. “This valuable program can launch the careers of our young artists.”

Some of the past recipients include: Alexis Bulman, Andrew Cairns, Monica Lacey, and Alexandra O’Sullivan.

This year from January to March 2018 a solo exhibition by Island emerging artist Norma Jean MacLean will be featured. This past fall the Gallery curator conducted research and studio visits with emerging artists. Four artists will now be selected for the group exhibition for later in 2018.

Off to Ottawa

With Canada 150 celebrations in full stride, the Confederation Players are preparing for their most dynamic season yet. The iconic troupe kicks off their summer at Confederation Centre on July 1, although the CN-sponsored program has been plenty busy all spring.

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On Monday May 29 the troupe hits the road for Montreal and Ottawa, riding a special anniversary train filled with municipal leaders from Eastern Canada. On May 31, the train will leave from Montreal’s Central Station bound for Ottawa and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Conference, where they will perform for more than 1,500 municipal leaders.

The Players troupe, CEO Jessie Inman, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee, and many more will arrive in Ottawa aboard this commemorative train on May 31 at 3:45 p.m. Media and public are invited to welcome Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Étienne Cartier, and many more at the Ottawa Station, platform 2, located at 200 Tremblay Road, where they will be greeted by VIPs and media.

“CN are the perfect partner for Confederation Centre to collaborate with to share our nation’s stories and commemorate the dreams of our founders,” offers CEO Inman, “I invite those in Ottawa to come out and welcome the Players while they are in the capital to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.”

Courtesy of this unique partnership, the 13-member Players troupe will entertain all week long at the FCM Conference. There are also three public opportunities to see the troupe, including two dates at Inspiration Village – a City of Ottawa attraction in the ByWard Market inspired by the PEI Celebration Zone, made up of repurposed shipping containers.

The Players will perform From Sea to Shining Sea at Inspiration Village from 3-3:30 p.m. on Friday June 2, and 6-6:30 p.m. on Saturday June 3. Admission is free.

The troupe will also perform a suite of Victorian songs on the steps of Parliament on Sunday June 4 from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Other activities include two special Canada 150 tree-planting ceremonies with CN in Montreal and Ottawa and emceeing events at the FCM conference.

Memo From the Boss

Canada 150 has arrived! As the national memorial to the founding of Canada, there is no better place to celebrate the sesquicentennial of our Confederation than right here. In the heart of Canada’s Birthplace visitors will find entertaining and expressive ways to honour this important anniversary across the complex, inside and out. Our ‘Centre for all Canadians’ has launched a diverse, accessible, and forward-thinking calendar of local and touring programming, entitled #Centre150. These exciting projects range from commemorative art exhibitions and a new commission in the Confederation Murals series, to expanded heritage programs, and an original touring production from some of Canada’s most gifted emerging performers.

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The Centre’s signature project is The Dream Catchers, a national touring production supported by the Government of Canada’s Canada 150 Fund. This winter, an artistic team travels to each province and territory to facilitate workshops, engaging young people and their dreams for our country, focusing on the environment, inclusion, and reconciliation. Actual dreamcatchers will be created in each workshop and integrated by Indigenous visual artist Nick Huard into a stunning national dreamcatcher, which will exhibited here all summer long. These sessions will be led in collaboration with regional artists, including Fred Penner, Emm Gryner, Paper Lions, City Natives, and more.

Inspired by young people’s visions for a better and brighter Canada, The Dream Catchers creative team will produce a vibrant musical for an expanded 2017 Young Company. Two troupes of emerging artists will present this new show across the country and on P.E.I., premiering here at Confederation Centre on National Aboriginal Day, June 21st.

In 2016 we announced a major sponsorship with CN for the Confederation Players. CN has now extended sponsorship of the Players through 2020 and invited the troupe to perform in Ottawa this June for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference where 2,000 municipal leaders will gather. CN is planning additional events that will engage our heritage troupe, including tree-planting ceremonies across the country. In the earliest days of our nation’s Confederation, the Canadian railway bound this far-reaching country together and I cannot imagine a more ideal partner to aid us in commemorating the dreams of our founders and sharing the nation’s stories.

From May 12-14, we will play host to the 20th annual Canadian Arts Summit, bringing together arts leaders from across the country to imagine the future of Canada’s creative life. As we look ahead, issues around cultural diversity and inclusion, evolving digital technologies, cross-cultural intersections, and reconciliation with Indigenous people in Canada are emerging as major drivers of cultural transformation. This event is Canada’s only national, cross-disciplinary gathering of arts leaders and this marks the first time the Summit has been held outside of Banff, Toronto, or Montreal. We are thrilled to welcome these thought leaders to their national memorial complex, many of whom will be enjoying their first-ever Island visit.

In other symposium news, we will present The Charlottetown Festival Conference in September, aligning with the dates of that famous 1864 conference. Celebrating new ideas and industry developments, this national gathering will include keynote lectures, workshops, a concert performance of the Dora-winning musical The House of Martin Guerre, and the world premiere of A Misfortune at The Mack.

On July 28, we will also revisit the classic Kronborg 1582, celebrating of one of our Festival’s most successful musicals. This hit show was produced here in 1975 before heading to Broadway and the Festival ensemble will deliver a concert performance at the world-renowned Indian River Church. This is just one highlight of a glistening summer calendar, which includes Adam Brazier’s debut directing our beloved Anne of Green Gables-The Musical TM, the East Coast premiere of the rollicking rock show Million Dollar Quartet, and the return of our cabaret theatre hits, Bittergirl and Glenda’s Kitchen.

As ever, the Centre is alive and buzzing in all corners. Our long-standing dance umbrella program is currently spearheading the creation of the inaugural DanceWorks Festival for this winter while the Confederation Centre Youth Chorus are preparing for their annual chorus tour, which will take them to Rome, Naples, and beyond this year.

As I commence my sixth year as CEO, I am immensely proud of the many innovations prospering across our departments, and am eager to see our organization embrace the central themes, inspiration, and reflection at the heart of Canada 150.

Jessie Inman is the Chief Executive Officer of the Confederation Centre.

RBC Renews Support for the Arts

Confederation Centre of the Arts is pleased to announce that the RBC Foundation has renewed its funding to support the Art Gallery’s Emerging Artist Program.

The RBC Emerging Artist Program has been a highly successful element of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery’s exhibition program. RBC has been providing support for the program since 2009. This $45,000 donation will fund three exhibitions over the next three years.

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“We are thrilled to renew our long standing partnership with Confederation Centre of the Arts,” says Mary MacInnis, Community Manager with RBC. “This important program does more than advance the careers of these emerging artists, it helps build vibrant communities and strong economies. We are looking forward to taking in these exhibitions as they are presented — we know they will be excellent.”

Some of the past artist recipients include Laura Archer, Gerald Beaulieu, John Cox, Rilla Marshall, Heather Millar, and Rebecca Viau.

“With RBC as a funding partner, the Art Gallery is able to offer young emerging artists their first major exhibition in a public art gallery, providing access to a professional curator, installation and conservation support, and media exposure,” says Confederation Centre CEO Jessie Inman. “This valuable program can launch the careers of Canada’s young artists.”

The next Emerging Artist exhibition is a group show, Studio Watch, which will open in January 2017. It will feature the work of four young emerging Prince Edward Island artists. Selection of the artists will follow a series of studio visits where the Art Gallery’s curator will evaluate recent work and provide useful feedback to candidates for the exhibition.

Festival Announces 2017 Fare

Confederation Centre of the Arts has announced a dazzling lineup for next summer’s Charlottetown Festival, presented by CIBC. The 2017 Festival will run June 3 to September 24 and include the 53rd season of the international sensation Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™; the iconic rock ’n’ roll mega-concert Million Dollar Quartet; the return of two beloved Festival-spawned musicals, Bittergirl and Glenda’s Kitchen; and a new Young Company production that will tour the country.

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Million Dollar Quartet is a hit musical inspired by the true story of the famed 1956 recording session in which producer Sam Phillips brought together the “godfathers of rock ‘n’ roll” – Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley – for one unforgettable jam session. Set in a Memphis studio, this story-and-song musical brings to light an extraordinary tale of broken promises, secrets, and a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of four friends that is both poignant and heartwarming. Featured are such hallmark hits as Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Fever, Great Balls Of Fire, Walk The Line, Folsom Prison Blues, and many more.

Presented in rep with Quartet is the Island festival’s crown jewel, Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™. For the first time, the internationally acclaimed musical will be directed by Artistic Director Adam Brazier, leading a company of 23 amazing triple threats from across the nation. Having delighted more than 2.5 million people over 3,200 times at the Centre, Anne of Green Gables–The Musical™ remains the quintessential Canadian musical, and Brazier is thrilled to put his creative stamp on the iconic piece.

“2017 is a year to celebrate Canada and being Canadian, and this storied musical rests at the very heart of our national identity,” says Brazier. “Searching for love and belonging in a time of strife and strain, Anne represents all Canadians coming to this country, or those searching for light every day in their own trials.”A Misfortune

He continues, “Million Dollar Quartet is an electrifying true story perfectly built for our Homburg Theatre and our Island audience. Presley, Cash, Lewis, and Perkins — this is one unbelievable studio session that changed rock’n’roll forever.”

Back at The Mack is the howlingly funny cabaret show on getting over getting dumped — Bittergirl: The Musical. This Canadian-made comedy virtually sold out its entire run when first premiering at the Festival in 2015. Having now played Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre and headed for Winnipeg and a tour of British Columbia, it will return in 2017 with new songs and scenes, and the same great soundtrack of doo-wop favourites, including I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I Will Survive, and Too Many Fish In The Sea.

Also playing The Mack, will be the world premiere of a new Canadian musical, A Misfortune. The story follows a young lawyer and a married woman in pre-revolutionary Russia on a walk through the woods; their friendship has reached an impasse. Soon they gather with three friends for a night in the country, discussing the inanity of their lives over an evening drink—and with each drink, more sordid secrets are revealed. Adapted from a short story by Anton Chekhov, one of the world’s most celebrated and enduring writers, A Misfortune is a romantic, bittersweet musical about small moments and momentous decisions.

Returning to the intimate Studio 1 theatre is Glenda’s Kitchen offering curious patrons a taste of the Island, literally and culturally! Festival icon, Glenda Landry and The Charlottetown Festival Orchestra lead this charming musical, exploring the many bounties of P.E.I.’s people, deep-seated traditions, and world-famous food. This afternoon cabaret is a must-see for Islanders and travelers alike and will feature new tunes and tales from Glenda and cast.

The Centre has already announced a new national touring production for the Young CompanyDream Catcher. With support from the Canada 150 Fund, the Centre will engage youth from across the country to create a new musical inspired by their dreams for Canada’s future. Around 20 young professional artists, who reflect the country’s cultural diversity, will be cast in two Young Companies – one touring and one on P.E.I., supported by TD. Participants will meet with Indigenous artists who will speak to them about the symbolic importance of dreamcatchers in their cultures. Small dreamcatchers will be created and integrated into an immense visual that will be on display outdoors at the Centre in 2017.

“We are thrilled for the 2017 Young Company to hit the national stage to celebrate the dreams of our nation’s founders, those of our youth, and those of the Indigenous Peoples in Canada, with a Canada-wide tour and original musical theatre project,” says Jessie Inman, CEO.

“Continuing our long history of national touring, Dream Catcher will seize the momentum of Canada’s sesquicentennial and engage young people from every province and territory, channeling their bold hopes and dreams for our nation’s future.”

Laurier Project Premiers Tonight!

In honour of Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s 175th birthday, Confederation Centre of the Arts is launching an original theatre production, The Laurier Project, which opens tonight in Charlottetown, the first performance in a national tour.

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Presented in partnership with Theatre New Brunswick, this new show is an inspirational blend of movement and sound and an exploration of Laurier’s words, ideas, and passion for Canada told by a multicultural cast of Canadian performers. This CN-sponsored production is set to music composed by violinist Deanna Choi, and choreographed by Kerry Gage, highlights the transformative words of Laurier in a bold new way.

“Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a great statesman who led Canada through its most formative years,” says Sean Finn, CN Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Legal Officer. “He was a leader ahead of his time. He saw the railway as instrumental in tying the country together and as the key to building strong communities. CN is excited to sponsor The Laurier Project as it represents the first step in Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations, exploring the nation’s shared history and our bold future ahead.”

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was Canada’s seventh prime minister and the country’s first francophone prime minister. A champion of the Quebec-Canada partnership, he served in the House of Commons for 45 years and is the longest serving leader of a major political party

The Laurier Project cast is made up of five Canadians from diverse backgrounds and Laurier’s vision for an inclusive country resonates: “His fairness and willingness to embrace all people stands out,” states one company member. The cast includes Byron Abalos, Christy Adamson, Emily Barker, Devon Michael Brown, and Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves.

The new production is directed and created by Thomas Morgan Jones, with set and costume design by Snezana Pesic, lighting design by Kaileigh Krysztofiak, and stage management from Crystal MacDonell. Accomplished Canadian author and political speechwriter, Arthur Milnes served as historical consultant.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with CN to present this exciting, original theatre piece celebrating the legacy of Sir Wilfrid Laurier,” says Jessie Inman, CEO, Confederation Centre. “Through CN’s support of this heritage initiative and others, such as our Confederation Players Program, we are together able to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary and ongoing evolution as a nation.”

The Laurier Project tour kicks off in Charlottetown tonight before being presented in six Canadian cities, concluding November 18 in Edmonton.

The Laurier Project invites Canadians from across the country to follow the discussion at lauriertour.ca and to share their thoughts on what Laurier and Canada’s cultural identity means to them on social media using the hashtag #lauriertour2016.