Newfoundland and Labrador is the kind of place where folks look out for one another – a place where close-knit communities gather together to celebrate in times of triumph and join together in mourning during times of despair. The relationship between the local arts and business communities is no exception. When local supports local, there’s no end to what can be achieved. It is this spirit of support, collaboration and camaraderie that defines who we are as a people, what hurdles we can overcome and what dreams we can make reality.
Now in its 38th season, the Stephenville Theatre Festival (which runs until August 14) is the longest running professional theatre festival in the province, and a shining example of the great things that can happen when local arts and businesses work together. Founded in 1979 by the late actor/director Maxim Mazumdar, the festival has been contributing to the local economy and cultural fabric of the region for years, while drawing locals and tourists together to experience top-notch theatre.
As with previous events, this year’s season promises a feast for the eyes and ears, featuring headlining show Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, along with Perfect Wedding, A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline, Blue Champagne, and Rock ’N’ Fables. Other highlights include the popular “An Evening With” series featuring the Dunphy Brothers and Smugglers Cove, Jennifer Dawson Hobbs, and a one-night showing of Artistic Fraud’s Between Breaths.
In addition to the talent and hard work of the cast, crew and production staff, and the support of the theatre-going public, it’s the sponsors who help make the festival such a smashing success each year. One example is local cake/pastry shop Jennifer’s Sweet Occasions in Kippens. The business may be small, with only three people on staff, but it’s support like theirs that makes all the difference to keeping events like the festival going.
While this is the business’s first year as an official sponsor, owner and theatre fan Jennifer Evans has been supporting the festival in other ways. She has attended many productions over the years, but says the Stephenville Theatre Festival is something special.
“I sponsor them every year because I go to every show,” she laughs.
“I love it. I think that the Stephenville Theatre Festival here is the best that I’ve ever seen…they’re awesome.”
Jennifer supports the festival, she says, quite simply because she’d “like to see them stay as long as possible.” After almost four decades running, it’s clear the curtain isn’t closing anytime soon.
“The success and longevity of the festival is directly related to the support of our local community,” says Christopher Vaughan, General Manager of the Stephenville Theatre Festival.
“What many people don’t realize is that box office revenue accounts for only 30 per cent of the funds we need to mount a season of professional theatre. We must raise the other 70 per cent through sponsorships and grants. So mounting a season wouldn’t even be possible without the support of local businesses, such as Jennifer’s Sweet Occasions.”