Musical chairs and a change of wind have shaken up Brome Lake Theatre’s board and management. Over the last twelve months, half of the board of directors has been replaced, the artistic director has left the helm (and will be replaced soon), and a new position, director of operations, has been created. To cap it off, after the annual general members’ meeting, held on September 28, the board elected a new management team.

The board will be chaired by Jean-Claude Mahé, formerly at the National Film Board and Tele-film Canada, where he was interim deputy director. Mr. Mahé succeeds Hélène Jalbert who had been president since 2014 and decided to retire from the board. Brigitte Boutin, former deputy Ombudsman at the office of the Ombudsman of banking services, was appointed vice president. Bruno Bourgeois, former member of senior management of National Bank and its affiliates, was re-appointed Theatre treasurer, a post he has held since mid-January. Finally, the former vice president, Janet Dedicik, a training specialist, was appointed secretary of the board.

This reorganization and injection of new blood into the board over the last few months follow a major policy shift begun in 2017, when the cultural program of the former summer theatre was extended to cover the whole year and the theatre’s physical amenities were expanded and upgraded, at great cost.

These changes inevitably raised the expectations of the theatre’s members and financial sponsors regarding the theatre’s management. Questions were raised about practices in various areas, such as: financial management, programming, relations with donors, present and future, public relations and marketing. The core mandate of the theatre needed, it seemed, to be brought up to date.

Grievances and good news

Certain anglophone members present at the annual general meeting criticized the theatre managers, reproaching them for not having presented enough English plays. This, they said, “did not comply with the initial mandate” of the theatre. The ex-secretary of the theatre’s board, Michel Green, responded that the time when Knowlton had an anglophone population exceeding 80% had long since changed, so the Theatre had to reflect the new demographic reality of TBL. The Theatre’s situation is not dramatic. On the contrary, the activity report shows an improvement in the financial results, and that ticket sales are up 71%. In 2018, thirteen shows were sold out, a sure sign the new program is already meeting the tastes of much of its public.

Translation: Tam Davis