The Sunset Threatre in Wells has received funding for two new, part-time positions from the BC Arts Council’s Strategic Initiative Grant.
The grant goes to art organizations with programs which are innovative, and go toward the sustainability and capacity of the organization.
Karen Jeffery, the executive artistic director of the theatre, said in a press release the new positions are the second phase of a three phase strategic plan “to restructure the company with the end goal of growing into a year-round professional theatre and performance space for the community of Wells.”
In the third phase, Jeffrey said she hopes to make the positions full-time.
The new positions are director of presentations and director of production, and have been filled by Julia Mackey and Dirk Van Stralen respectively.
“This is a dream come true,” said Jeffrey, who also founded the 100-seat theatre.
The theatre supports the creation of new plays through its Exploration Series, which works with artists to develop, produce, and present their works. The new hires were two of the first theatre artists to go through this program with their show Jake’s Gift, which has now been performed all across Canada. The show is written and performed by Mackey and directed by Van Stralen.
Mackey said she and Van Stralen are “thrilled” to help move the theatre into its next chapter.
As well as the Exploration Series, the theatre hosts plays it did not help develop, works with new, emerging and Indigenous artists, and hosts a concert and film series throughout the year.
Jeffrey added that the theatre was only able to achieve the new restructuring because of the support of the Sunset Cabaret, which was first started 12 years ago as a fundraiser for theatre —and which is now approaching its 50th performance.
She commented that the support of past and present board members has also had an impact on the restructuring.
“We are full steam ahead with plans already underway for this coming summer and the expansion of a winter series of theatrical entertainment,” said Jeffrey. “I am so looking forward to the road ahead.”
The theatre also has a couple upcoming shows. Jake’s Gift, an award-winning show which tells the story of a Candian WWII veteran’s return to Juno Beach for the 60th anniversary of D-Day, will run on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m.
A Halloween edition of the Sunset Cabaret will also run on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m.