Reports presented at the Annual General Meeting

The Highlands Summer Festival’s Annual General Meeting was held April 22 at the Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre in Haliburton. A number of reports were received at that time covering the activities of the Festival, a registered charitable company, during the 2013 season, which ended on October 31, 2013. The reports also offered an opportunity for  comments on the present season.

The following reports were presented at the meeting:


President’s Report


April 22, 2014


Welcome everyone to the Highlands Summer Festival’s annual general meeting covering the 2013 season.

I am pleased to report that last year was a success in many areas. The company was able to eliminate the small deficit it had carried forward from the previous year. In addition, the season made a surplus which put us on a firm footing heading into the 2014 season. Earlier the board had expressed a desire to create a “rainy day fund” or capital reserve to cover unexpected or extraordinary expenses. We appear to be on the road to making that happen. The surplus can be attributed to tighter budgeting and expenditures in all areas and the increase in ticket prices. I thank those who found ways to do more with less or at least the same amount and to our patrons who stayed with us despite the change in ticket prices. In fact, attendance continued to grow with attendance this year topping 75% over-all.

Finances and attendance are of course the result of delivering a quality theatrical experience and I think our track record is self-evident in that regard. We strive to produce top quality theatre featuring people from the community in all aspects of our productions. The response from our patrons tells me we are hitting that mark and setting the bar higher every season. Thanks to everyone who was involved in making last season a success.

This season we are pleased to welcome back Artistic Producer Scot Denton, who has once again laid out a challenging but entertaining season for 2014. Working closely with him last year were executive producers Beth Kipping and Melissa Stephens. Melissa will be carrying on that capacity for the coming season. Business manager Dave Hawley who watches the numbers for us, is also back for another year.

We were fortunate in this past year to be awarded an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to help the company hire a general manager for the next three years. The hiring was completed earlier this year and Ken Loney has stepped into the post as of March 3. We welcome him in his new position and look forward to many innovations as a result of having someone to help steer the company’s affairs year-round over the next three years.

In appointing Ken to the GM position, we lost him as a board member. However, the board is confident that his wise counsel as a member of the board will serve the company well in his new post as General Manager. Our thanks to Trillium for their help in allowing the company to take this next big step.

One of the benefits of having a general manager on staff is that allows the company to be more inventive in it thinking. For years we had talked about introducing a youth program and this year it is happening. Called Early Stages, the program will introduce young people to the fun and fundamentals of theatre craft, acting, movement, speech, costumes, sets and props….during the month of July the young participants will be exposed to all aspects of theatre, culminating with a production performance at the Haliburton Highlands Museum in Haliburton. Watch for more details as the season draws near.

As I have mentioned, there are many people involved in putting a six week, five production season together. Many are volunteers. We appreciate deeply the skills, talent and time they bring to the myriad tasks involved in putting on a show. We could do it without their support…..thank you all.

Among the many people who volunteer their time for the betterment of the Highlands Summer Festival, is the board of directors. Meeting each month, the board helps to chart the course for the company with a medium and longer term vision. They are also fund raisers and enthusiastic supporters when they meet our patrons and donors. They also step beyond their board responsibilities to help in a variety of other areas. All have a passion for live theatre and work hard to see that Highlands Summer Festival continues to be one of the most outstanding community theatre companies in the province.

As with any board, from time to time there are changes. This year two members of our board are stepping down. Ken Loney, who is not stepping too far away, is taking on the new responsibilities as General Manager Thank you Ken for your hard work and dedication at the board table. It is reassuring that you will still be close at hand.. This meeting also marks the end of the term for Paul Heffer who is stepping down after seven years on the board. He joined the board as the Festival acquired it charitable status and has been a valuable member ever since. We wish you well Paul and thank you very much for all you have given to Highlands Summer Festival.

Over the years box office managers Jim and Marilyn Frost have become the faces and voices of the festival. Greeting people on the phone, responding to emails and turning patrons into friends when meeting them at the theatre. It is a big job and one they have done with flair for the past 12 years. Jim and Marilyn have requested their responsibilities be reduced. They assure me this is not the end of their involvement with Highlands Summer Festival, just the beginning of a transition. Thanks to both Jim and Marilyn for their many years of service to the company and their continued interest in staying involved.

And so, we look ahead to the opening of the 2014 theatre season, just two short months away. Thanks to our patrons, donors and supporters we know this will be another outstanding season for Highlands Summer Festival.

See you at the theatre!

 Jack Brezina, April 22, 2014

Highlands Summer Festival Annual General meeting

Artistic Producer’s Report

April 22, 2014

Rehearsals begin next weekend for our 2014 Season. Casting has almost been completed for a musical and two plays, and set construction is underway. The three productions – Great Expectations, The Last Resort, and I Hate Hamlet – will provide opportunities for approximately 34 performers and a dozen stage managers and crew to take part. Also, we are looking forward to seeing Billy Bishop goes to War and Back in 59 on our stage as part of the season.

New for 2014 is Early Stages, an apprentice-based program which will provide opportunities for young people to grow and develop through theatre-related classes and games. There will be an opportunity to see some of the work they create on the first weekend in August.

This will be a challenging season for all participants in the Festival and I hope it will be as entertaining for audiences as it is rewarding for us.

This season will see a new presence for the Festival using social media. For the first time, we will engage audiences, using Facebook and Twitter, providing glimpses of our rehearsal process and feedback from our participants. By using these new tools we will broaden the experience for our current audience and connect effectively with a future one.


Report of the Executive Producer

Highlands Summer Festival Annual General Meeting

April 22, 2014

Once again the 2013 season did not disappoint. From the ridiculousness of Nunsense, to the poignant Our Town to the classic Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys, Scot Denton put together a season for everyone. The additional bought shows of Wingfield’s Inferno and Bohemians in Brooklyn brought in some new audience members to our intimate theatre.

I am constantly reminded about the importance of our volunteers in this venture and I am so glad that this past fall we announced the 2014 season with a volunteer appreciation event.

Every season has its little bumps and issues. We learn from them and move on to the next season. The people who have done the job of executive producer are very helpful and I am grateful for their input as Beth Kipping has left me to do this job on my own this year. She was extremely helpful and organized last year and has shared all of her files with me as I tackle this again on my own. I am also very excited about the appointment of Ken Loney as our General Manager.

The upcoming season has some veteran actors returning as well as some new ones from Haliburton and beyond. There are young people in each of our 3 main shows this year and 1 of our bought shows. This season also sees the beginning of Early Stages. I know from auditions the young people involved in this are looking forward to this new experience.

Please feel free to email me if you have suggestions about the upcoming 2014 season.


Melissa Stephens

Executive Producer



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