by C.J. Veach
The Jubilee Theatre at the Wyatt Centre in Summerside is entering the millennium with new faces and new direction. One of those faces is facility manager, Nicole Phillips. Hired in March, Phillips has worked hard to get the word out that Jubilee Theatre offers a wide range of uses.
"I think there's been a perception that we're strictly a professional facility. Certainly we are a professional production group, but we'd also like to offer our services to community based groups, and not just those involving performing arts," Phillips stated.
Built in 1996, the Jubilee has produced successful shows like Jamboree and Maritime Star. But this past season the Summerside Regional Development Corporation decided the theatre would no longer produce a major summer show. Instead it would be used as a rental facility to host other production companies.
"There was a feeling in the community that with this decision usage of the theatre would diminish," Phillips said. "But in reality attendance has been stable through July and August. For instance, we enjoyed a successful run of hosting Master Clash this summer. It's the shoulder season that needs to be addressed."
Enter Phillip's aggressive campaign to entice local groups to the Jubilee. "There was a feeling that we were too expensive or were inflexible in negotiating our rental fee," Phillips observed. "That certainly isn't the case anymore. While we still have higher operational costs than say a gymnasium or church hall, we still offer quite a lot for the money and are willing to make our facility accessible to a wide range of people."
That has been the case. Recently the Summerside Community Church has called the Jubilee home on Sunday mornings and the Kinsmen and Island Tel have held conferences there.
Phillips would like other groups to come forward to diversify the Jubilee's usage. "We'd be ideal for say a fashion show or auction and of course community theatre and music," she said. "And we've worked a subsidation program with the Western School Board to host their Christmas concerts and school plays. We want to reach a broader spectrum of patrons to get then in here and see what a beautiful facility we have."
But Phillips would also like to encourage more professional acts to use the theatre as well.
"Many promoters often do not like to rent facilities because of the risk involved. They can go somewhere else and get a fee for their appearance or be hired in a split percentage basis," Phillips said.
"I'm trying to lose the image that we are just a rental facility or roadhouse and be flexible with these groups."
With Phillips at the helm, look for the Jubilee Theatre to become more things to more people in the new year.