The response of citizens to Theatre Lac-Brome’s fundraising campaign “En route for 2021 and beyond” has already exceeded its initial goals. The theatre planned on raising $500,000 in two years. Now it should meet that target barely six months after its kickoff in October 2020.

“The response has been amazing,” exclaimed Jean-Claude Mahé, Chair of the Theatre’s board of directors. “You will not believe the number of people who have asked me how they can help the theatre. The affection of residents, both anglophones and francophones, for the theatre has literally thrown me off my chair!” He’s even keen on betting that, between the beginning of October 2020 and October 2022, it won’t be $500,000, but rather $1,000,000. that will be raised. “We are constantly in need of money. Did you know that the theatre’s receipts, even when it is at full or nearly full capacity, only covers half the costs of its operating expenses? My conclusion: in Canada, culture would not exist without donations and financial assistance from the various levels of government.

Four workshops in English

Since taking on his position, Jean-Claude Mahé has constantly supported the bilingualism of the theatre, which was formerly an anglophone summer theatre, and is now a permanent bilingual theatre. However, certain francophone supporters found it hard to explain the theatre’s recent publicity announcement, entitled “Respecting the Past, Building the Future”, promoting a special project of four workshops (choir, photography, visual art and dramatic writing) only in English. The chair of the theatre’s board told Tempo: “The federal subsidy which is funding this program aims at supporting linguistic minorities, and in Quebec those are the anglophones. But let’s be clear, the funding was not sought by an anglophone theatre, but rather in the name of a bilingual cultural institution interested in supporting an activity for the anglophone minority. Moreover, on an annual basis, our coming programs will perfectly reflect the linguistic duality of our community. Our francophone and anglophone donors and supporters can be assured of that.”

Opening of the season postponed to October 9th

As a result of the impact of COVID-19, the theatre’s program- ming for 2020 will, as much as possible, be postponed to 2021- 2022. Mr. Mahé explained, “If between now and the end of June the majority of residents are vaccinated, we will proceed with a gradual opening of the theatre. We would like to present a play for schools at the end of June. We might finally officially launch our 2021-2022 season on October 9th with the Martha Wainwright show. It’s impossible for the moment to lay out a detailed program plan. There are still too many unknowns.”

The future: the theatre as a cultural attraction

Theatre, choir, visual arts, workshops, conferences, film festival; the theatre’s offer continues to become more diverse: “Our goal is to shape the cultural life of the region, to become its cultural centrepiece,” says Mr. Mahé enthusiastically. Newcomers to the area will become more and more demanding, you know!”

Translation: Tam Davis