Former city culture officer revamps local live theatre

After 34 and a half years of service and a 2015 retirement, Fred Andrews was pulled back to his role as Culture Officer at the City of Barrie. His return was not permanent, but long enough to steer the Georgian Theatre and Mady Centre for the Performing Arts in a new direction.

Andrews conducted an operational review of the two theatres in order to assess how they could generate more activity. They previously operated exclusively as rental houses and earned a limited revenue based on that business model.

After a careful operational review of both theatres, it was decided that presenting their own shows was the best way to diversify their output, so work on two upcoming series began. The first is a four show series for young children called Theatre for Kids and the second a three show series called Women About Town.

The first show in the latter series, Girls Nite Out will hit the stage April 21, followed by Spin June 9, and The Stars of Old Hollywood Sept 29.

Still in production, the shows will not be limited to showing here but possibly outsourced to theatres around the province, as per this new commitment diversifying activity.

This move towards privatisation is not without risks, according to Andrews, but the benefits of viable, successful and creative theatres should far outweigh them. The ability to experience theatre in its original form, theatrical production, is long overdue as most houses around Ontario do so already.

As for Andrews, who will officially hang up his hat April 26, his pride and joy remain the successful annual citywide events he helped start. Among these are Kempenfest, the largest August long weekend event welcoming 200 thousand revelers from all over North America.

“I’m most proud of success we’ve had with a lot of events in Barrie. We look after events on the waterfront, for corporations and it’s the events area that I’m most proud of, that’s why I enjoyed doing the work that I do”, said Andrews

As for how he will be spending his well-deserved retirement; Andrews will make time for golf and curling in the water. He will also look forward to the new theatre presentations and theatre shows at Georgian Theatre and Mady Centre for the Performing Arts.

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