President reports to AGM

President’s Annual Report
April 27, 2011.

It has been my pleasure to once again serve as President of the Highlands Summer Festival during the past year. As the organization enters its eleventh season, it is encouraging to see the growth and stability of the live theatre company, which started back in 2001.

Our continuing success is due in no small measure to the support of volunteers and staff whose efforts far exceed the compensation we provide for their services. The Highlands Summer Festival is an interesting mixture of theatre professionals, students, and community members. They all bring an enthusiastic love of live theatre to the tasks at hand, ensuring that each season reaches and exceeds the bar set the previous year. My thanks to each of those individuals for their continued support of the company.

Of course, the key ingredient in any live theatre endeavour, is the audience. Highlands Summer Festival continues to enjoy the enthusiastic support of audience members. Starting with the Christmas promotion through to ticket sales on the night of a performance, we find our audience to be loyal, enthusiastic and supportive. Many of those who attend our productions, also support the company through generous donations. We have always appreciated that support and now, as a registered charity, we can acknowledge this generosity with a tax deductible receipt. We appreciate this financial support and view these gifts, big and small, as further endorsement of the effort we put into our productions each year.

Highlands businesses is also a major supporters of the Festival. Seven companies have joined us this season as corporate sponsors. They include: McKecks The Blue Line; Haliburton Timbr-Mart; Curry Motors; Parker Pad and Printing; Subway Development of Eastern and Northern Ontario; Century 21 Real Estate; and Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre as well as the many businesses who advertise in the program. We have two print media sponsors, The Haliburton Echo and the Haliburton County Voice. We are also pleased to welcome major financial support of the BMO Foundation and RBC Foundation and the federal Canada Summer Jobs program.

This past year also saw some senior staff changes with Business Manager and Bookkeeper Betty Mills stepping back from that post. She continues to be active in many of the other key responsibilities she carries out on behalf of the Festival. Dave Hawley is the new Business Manager and Bookkeeper. Our thanks to Betty for her many years of service in this key area and thanks as well to Dave Hawley for offering his services. We are also pleased to have Artistic Producer Scot Denton back for the season along with Executive Producer Melissa Stephens. The continuity they provide is important to the company.

We continue our relationship with the Highlands Opera Studio as it grows. We provide infrastructure support to the program designed by Artistic Directors Richard Margison and Valerie Kuinka for young opera professionals. As the Opera Studio matures we continue to explore new ways to support that growth.

The 2010 season was a challenging one financially. The final numbers for the season showed we ended the year approximately $10,000 over-budget. The board is acutely aware of this situation and has approved a budget for the 2011 season that retires that outstanding amount and balances the expenditures with anticipated revenues. The board has also asked the staff to keep a closer eye on expenditures to ensure we avoid a deficit at the end of this season.

I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the hard work of my fellow members of the board. The six other members of the board work diligently to guide the operation of the theatre company and while their efforts are often unseen, they are nonetheless vital to functioning of the Festival. Board members include: Tammy Rea; Paul Heffer; Craig Saunders; Joan Chapple, Rob Eaton; and Joan Hawley. I especially want to thank our Vice Chair, Tammy Rea, who is stepping down from the board at the end of this meeting. Tammy has always been an ardent supporter of live theatre in the Highlands and a dedicated member of the Highlands Summer Festival team. Her presence at the board table will be missed.

The 2011 season is well underway with set construction started under the guidance of David Mills and some of the casts are in weekend rehearsal mode. I know we will have a hit with the family-friendly musical, Anne of Green Gables, and tickle some funny bones with Norm Foster’s Looking and the popular Educating Rita. One of the Joan of Montreal performances is already sold out and the second is getting close….and we are pleased to have folk singer David Archibald back on our stage, this time working with a Festival veteran (and it is interesting using that term for some so young) Jocelyn Regina. She has been with us in some capacity since our opening season.

The Opera program this year includes three different excerpt concerts, the Faculty Fund-raiser featuring Richard Margison and members of the teaching staff, Menotti’s The Medium and the full opera presentation of Falstaff.

So we are looking forward to an exciting and entertaining year.

Thank you all for your continued support of the Highlands Summer Festival and the Highlands Opera Studio.

See you at the theatre…..

Jack Brezina,
April 27, 2011

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