Saturday, April 26th

7:30 am – 5:00 pm                 Registration

8:00 – 8:45 am                         Light Breakfast Refreshments

8:30 – 9:00 am                       Showcase Performances

9:00 – 10:30 am                     Plenary

Sponsored by: OHTO final logo

                                 Place-Based Cultural Tourism: Realizing Your Community’s Potential

Keynote Speaker: Steven Thorne, Principal, Place-Based Cultural Tourism Planning, Waterloo, Ontario

Steven Thorne is a specialist in “place-based cultural tourism” – a phrase that Steven coined.

He helps cities, towns, and regions to realize their potential for cultural tourism by using his company’s holistic, place-based planning approach. The approach weaves together heritage, arts, culinary, agritourism, and natural history experiences to form a tapestry that reveals a destination’s unique cultural terroir and sense of place. By using Steven’s approach, any destination can enhance its appeal to cultural travelers and compete more successfully in the cultural tourism marketplace.

In Steven’s words, “For cultural travelers, the visitor experience is about much more than a destination’s cultural ‘attractions’. It’s about encountering a destination’s history and heritage, its narratives and stories, its landscape, its townscape, its people. It’s about discovering what makes a city, town, or region distinctive, authentic, and memorable. It’s about the experience of ‘place’. Simply put, the place is the product.”

10:30 – 10:45 am                   Refreshment Break & Get on the Buses

10:45 am – 1:30 pm             Mobile Workshops (& Catered Lunches)

                A-1.                       Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve: The Forest Festival of Concerts

                                             Hosts: Sean Pennylegion, SPARC Working Group Member & Retired General Manager, The Forest Festival; Peter Schleifenbaum, Owner, Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve, Haliburton Highlands

This annual festival of concerts that links nature, and music, takes place over five days each August in Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve (The Forest) and features eight unique musical performances. The Forest’s 80,000 acres provide a home to many activities, including the world’s longest forest Canopy Walk and the renowned Wolf Centre. The Forest is Canada’s first Forest Stewardship Council certified forest and the ownership and employees are committed to sustainable and integrated resource management.

Peter Schleifenbaum will discuss how and why “The Forest” became involved in presenting a self-sustaining (no public funds) arts festival that reflects the ideals of Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve. Initially, in conjunction with Patria Theatre/Music Productions, the “soundscape” outdoor theatre productions of R. Murray Schafer were presented using the Bone Lake amphitheatre. This collaboration evolved into the Forest Festival, now beginning its seventh season.

Sean Pennylegion will focus on the mechanics, challenges and successes of staging concerts in these two non-traditional spaces. There will be ample time for participant questions and answers during the presentation.

B-2.                       Wintergreen Maple Syrup & Pancake Barn: Youth Caucus

                              Hosts: Elisha Barlow, Youth Stream Co-Facililator, Kendra Wishlow, Sticks & Stones Productions & Haliburton Folk Society Youth Intern, Youth Stream Co-Facilitator, Haliburton Highlands;  Ryan Dawson, Youth, Spoken Word Performer & Musician, Minden, Ontario

Ryan Dawson will explain his experiences as a youth – and performing artist – in a rural community, as well as share the history behind Wintergreen as a performing arts location. Wintergreen is a timber-framed maple syrup barn on a country road near the village of Minden and owned by Tom, Diane and Ryan Dawson.

Participants will enjoy a catered lunch by Wintergreen, and engage in an open space discussion focusing on resolutions, inspirations and future actions for youth in rural communities.

C-3.                       Hollywood Dreams in the Middle of a Forest – Digital Projection in Unique Spaces 

                             Hosts: Tammy Rea, Sticks and Stones Productions & SPARC Working Group Member, Minden, Ontario; Keith Strata, Owner, Highlands Cinemas, Kinmount, Ontario

On the border of the Kawarthas and the Haliburton Highlands, Kinmount, a village of 300, boasts an unusual demographic: more movie theatre seats than people. Highlands Cinemas, a 550-seat complex with five theatres showing first-run movies, has drawn customers from the surrounding area for more than two decades. This season — from May to Thanksgiving — 50,000 moviegoers are expected to enter Keith Stata’s home to enjoy the movie experience in the middle of cottage country

Unlike your average chain theater, the Highlands Cinema comes complete with bears eating popcorn, a collection of movie projectors numbering in the thousands – the largest collection in North America – and a room full of mannequins dressed in period costumes.

Keith faced a major decision last year when he decided to “go digital” – probably the biggest threat to independent theatres in Canada. Tour this unique venue, hear about the challenges of digital projection and maybe even see a short or two.

D-4.                       Haliburton Highlands Museum: Mining Local History for the Performing Arts

                              Hosts: Fay Martin, Co-Founder Conjurors of County Town & SPARC Working Group Member, Minden, Ontario; Michael Fay, Professional Writer & Playwright & SPARC Working Group Member, Minden, Ontario; Kate Butler, Curator, Haliburton Highlands Museum, Haliburton, Ontario

Nestled in Glebe Park, an easy tromp from Fleming School of the Arts, the Haliburton Highlands Museum is the site of a renovation done by Sustainable Building students, developing its capacity to be a performing arts venue.  Kate Butler will lead a tour of the facilities and recount its colorful history, as well as current and planned performance activities.

Fay Martin and Michael Fay were founders of the Conjurors of County Town, a cooperative community theatre that over several years produced five original plays rooted in local history, performed in an outdoor theatre created on the Minden Hills Cultural Centre grounds, as well as various other projects e.g. Ghost Walks, Fringe Theatre.  Michael will talk about why and how he turns local history into theatre. Fay will discuss the challenges of producing performing arts in a rural community, including the structural impediments to including youth.

E-5.                       Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion: From Kids Play to Stage Plays

                               Hosts: Curtis Eastmure, Founding Member, Highlands Little Theatre, Singer, Actor & Producer, Haliburton, Ontario; Heather Smith, Manager, Public Use, Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion, Haliburton, Ontario; Jack Brezina, President, Highlands Summer Festival & SPARC Working Group Member, Haliburton Highlands

When the school board announced plans to build a new triple gymnasium at the high school, several members of the community saw an opportunity to create a theatre in the soon to be abandoned gym. With support from the school board, the provincial government and the community, the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion emerged, like a butterfly from the cocoon on the former facility. The fact that the space had been used in the past for theatrical productions provided an ironic twist to the story as the basketball nets came down and a raked 226 seat theatre appeared. A combination of community support, buy-in from the high school and support from the province made the facility a reality.

Curtis Eastmure, one of the driving forces behind the transition will talk about the effort needed to convince the powers of the day that the space could be successfully repurposed as a theatre space that serves both the community and the high school. Current theatre manager, Heather Smith, will be on hand to show delegates around. We will also be inviting those with similar experiences or considering converting an existing building to a performance space to talk about their experiences.

F-6.                       The Little County that Could – A Community of Music

                               Hosts: Barrie Martin, President, Haliburton County Folk Society & SPARC Working Group Member, West Guilford, Ontario; Roxanne Casey, Manager, CANOE FM, Haliburton, Ontario

‘Without music, life would be a mistake’ (Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche).

The Haliburton Highlands are alive with the sound of music. Music is part of our cultural mosaic and contributes immensely to the vibrancy of our community. There are many opportunities to listen to or perform live music. The offerings are diverse – folk, jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, rock, classical, and opera. We have musical guests of the highest calibre and a wonderfully talented community of local artists. And music happens in theatres, restaurants, resorts, homes, community centres, camps, on the street, and in the great outdoors on forest floor and lakeshore. The influences are everywhere. The high school’s outstanding music program, music courses offered through the Haliburton School of the Arts, private music instruction by talented teachers, speciality music camps, theatre productions, open stages, community choirs and bands, recording studios, community radio, festivals, and many concerts have fostered a passion for music in young and old alike.

This workshop explores the opportunities and challenges of building a community of music. Come prepared to share your stories and explore a variety of topics including presenting, audience development, partnerships, venues, music tourism and the role of community radio. You will enjoy a mix of discussion, presentation, performance, problem solving and some tasty treats.  A portion of this workshop will be broadcast live on 100.9 Canoe FM.

NB: Space limited to 20 participants

 2:00 – 2:30 pm                    Buses return from Workshops

Refreshment Break & Get off the Buses

 2:30 – 4:00 pm                    Concurrent Sessions

S7                    Research Soundbytes

(1) Rural Artists’ Contributions to Resilience & the Emergence of a Local Culture-based Economy

                      Presenter: Jude Ortiz, Research Coordinator, NORDIK Institute, Algoma University, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

In traditional economic frameworks, the arts are typically seen in terms of tangible outputs of cultural products with limited viability in generating wealth. More recently they have been hailed as economic drivers in the creative economy and many (primarily) urban centres are attempting to harness the arts in this regard. Less understood, however, is how engaging in the arts strengthens community identity and fosters the emergence of a local culture-based economy, generally, and the critical role artists in rural communities play in achieving such, specifically. The presentation will discuss a new overarching framework for understanding the arts contribution to individual and community resilience, defined as ‘the capacity to adapt, transition and prosper when faced with significant change while retaining core values’ (Colussi, 1999; Torjman, 2007). It will highlight the value chain in social and creative capital development that supports cultural preservation and innovation in the creation of unique products and experiences, leading to more sustainable livelihoods.

(2) Tourism and the Performing Arts:  Expanding the Experience Classic Theatre Festival Case Study

                    Presenter: Laurel Smith, Artistic Producer, Classic Theatre Festival, Chair of the Board, Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization

The performing arts have long been considered a tourism draw due to the sector’s innate ability to provide memorable experiences that tap into the senses.  In fact, while other businesses that cater to visitors work towards adding an experiential layer to their offer, the performing arts by nature ARE experiences.  Today’s visitors  are shifting away from “look and see” tourism opportunities and moving towards hands-on,  close-up journeys into communities where visitors can meet the people and artisans who create and engage in rich storytelling and interactive moments. Using the Ottawa Valley’s only professional theatre company, the Classic Theatre Festival, as a case study, attendees will learn how embracing a visitor-centric approach can reveal practical ways to expand and position their offer to increase demand and meet the needs of the visitor.

S8                    Community Soundbytes

(1) Community Building through Performance Arts

                       Presenter: Shelley King, Chief Executive Puppeteer, Puppeteria, Wilberforce, Ontario

Using the magic of clowning, puppetry, and expressive arts, Shelley King will share her experiences in coordinating inter-generational community based performance art projects. This presentation will include a discussion on finding community support, partners, volunteers, financial assistance, and appropriate venues for a variety of creative performances in rural communities. Shelley will discuss the history behind 8 different programs she developed for her community. These successful programs include Creative Expression Through Drama, Point in Time Puppet Players, Generation to Generation, and When We Were Young. All of Shelley’s projects have been inter-generational, have required creative problem-solving when facing obstacles, most have included youth and adults with intellectual disabilities, and all have contributed to a greater sense of community.

(2) Improvised Storytelling for Community Health and Wellbeing

                        Presenter: Fay Wilkinson, Registered Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator, Faculty, Fleming College, Principal – The Creative Cocoon Studio, Eagle Lake, Ontario

‘A tale however slight illuminates truth’ (Rumi). How can stories – both literal and metaphorical – contribute to the resilience of a rural community? Fay Wilkinson will outline how she is using improvised storytelling and spoken word art for health, wellbeing and community building with a broad cross section of populations in Haliburton County, including seniors and school children.  She will discuss her model, Visible Voices, for engaging the community and the benefits of the Playback Theatre troupe she founded who have performed at numerous venues in Haliburton County including Hospice Volunteers, Caregivers, and the Fringe Festival building our community one story at a time. Future ideas, for example integrating digital storytelling with other forms of art making will also be presented in the hopes of sparking discussion. The session will articulate the connection between rural performing arts and the health and vitality of rural communities. Best strategies will be explored for using the shared knowledge to inform public perception, policy and economic development.

S9                    Meaford Hall: A Community Success Story

                       Presenter: Susan Lake, Manager Arts & Cultural Services, Meaford Hall Arts & Cultural Centre, Meaford, Ontario

Meaford Hall Arts & Cultural Centre, located in historic downtown Meaford, is a beautifully restored and renovated century old landmark.  As a four seasons venue, Meaford Hall plays host to a variety of events including live theatre, music, film, dance and entertainment as well as community, corporate and social events. Meaford Hall measures its success on 3 pillars: Financial Success, by achieving its financial goals; Community Success, as a celebrated community icon, and Regional Success as the Premier Arts and Cultural Centre in South Georgian Bay. This presentation will feature some of the ways Meaford Hall has engaged its community and audience to achieve financial, community and regional success since reopening as a renovated icon in 2006. This presentation will answer the question of what the economic and social role of the performing arts in rural communities can be as both an answer to those seeking world class performances, as well as community based productions and low cost entertainment all within a small operating budget.

S10            Down Along The Shore: How Music, Story and the Arts are Generating Pride and Economic Renewal in Rural Newfoundland

                   Presenter: Dan Rubin, Second Stage Creative Arts, Pouch Cove, Newfoundland & Labrador

This session will focus on the role of performing arts in cultural renewal in rural Newfoundland and specifically the ways in which music, story, theatre and local celebrations have contributed to rebirth of pride and economic activity in the town of Pouch Cove, a traditional outport community on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland, close to St. John’s. Activities and events that have helped develop pride and our local economy include two recent fund-raising concerts, the work of a community development committee, the rebuilding of the community’s fishing launch, the work of the heritage committee which Dan Rubin helped found, recent house and shed concerts and a community garden project. A few examples from other outport communities will also be referenced in this presentation.

This session will demonstrate specific approaches and programs that have connected the arts with local community, to simultaneously restore community identity and spirit and generate new options for generating economic opportunity.

Participants will emerge with a deepened view of community development in which the arts become an engine for renewed identity and creativity; specific ways to apply these lessons in their own communities; and an understanding of the more subtle ways in which the arts offer a mirror for rural communities to allow them to grow and prosper organically by understanding and celebrating their past.

S11                  NEW !!!  The Shadowland Exploratory

                       Presenters: Anne Barber and Brad Harley, Co-Artistic Directors, Shadowland Theatre, Ward’s Island, Toronto, Ontario

This workshop will explore Shadowland’s style of outdoor, visual theatre using puppetry, mask, installations, spectacle art and music, and its application to rural youth, artists and the land. We will map out our partnership in rural Norfolk County that created community-engaged, outdoor performances. Join our theatrical journey – developing the themes and ideas; the initial forays to the community; gathering financial and material resources; engaging participants and local artists as fellow travellers; exploring the best techniques and approaches; and embarking on the full journey of the performance where communities celebrate their own stories and localities. How do local and visiting artists share and disseminate their skills and adapt their own practices? What is the potential of urban and rural collaborative relationships in finding the resources needed? How to encourage rural organizations to take new directions? What can be done to sustain projects more than once? How do we develop the relationship between art and nature? The workshop will feature selected visual examples and provide opportunities for discussion and interaction.



S12                  NEW !! Dancing in the Third Act

                       Presenter: Randy Glynn, Choreographer and Dance Professional, Toronto

Last summer Randy formed a senior’s dance company in Annapolis Royal, NS, and choreographed a dance on them that flew far beyond everyone’s expectations – in short it was astonishing. Dancing in the Third Act has been booked to open a major dance festival in Montreal and has attracted the attention of agents in Canada and the US. Six hundred people attended the 3-night run in Annapolis Royal – population 450. A documentary film is in the works and Toronto’s Luminato is interested. The dance is not a senior’s variety show in any way but a true, powerful, moving and funny work of art that deals, literally, with the ups and downs of aging. We think of it as 12 dancers – 800 years of experience.

Currently, with partners the Orillia District Arts Council and the Mariposa Arts Theatre Foundation, rehearsals are underway for the next cast for Dancing in the Third Act which will open its 3-day run at the Orillia Opera House on May 1st. This workshop will explain the process of making the dance – and how it garnered attention. All – or part of the Orillia production cast – may well perform all or part of the dance for workshop participants!

5:15 – 5:30 pm           Shuttle Bus Pick-Up Delegates – Various Locations (TBC) to Bark Lake Leadership Centre

Shuttle bus pick-up is available free to SPARC delegates – details forthcoming depending on Accommodators!

 6:00 – 11:00 pm       Gala Dinner & Regional Gems & Special Guest Performances

                                          Location: Bark Lake Leadership Centre

On Saturday night at the beautiful Bark Lake Leadership Centre ( we will treat you to a spectacular evening of eating and entertainment. As you enjoy a pre-dinner drink, you will be surrounded by film images of local events created by Sticks and Stones Productions.  Following an epicurean meal from the kitchen of Chef David Guieweler, Julie Barban of Heritage Ballet ( will thrill you with her adaptation of The Spirit of the Great White Pine, a children’s chorus extracted from a play based on lost local history written in 2007 by local playwright Michael Fay, choreographed to original music composed and performed by strings player Bethany Houghton and colleagues.

Ragged Company Photo by Lorie Prohaszka

Ragged Company Photo by Lorie Prohaszka

You will be thrilled a performance by a member (tbc) of the Highlands Opera Studio, a unique Canadian summer program that began six years ago in the Haliburton Highlands. Program participants are professional opera singers trying to break into the industry’s top ranks. They receive coaching and training culminating in performances of two operas at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion.

And to complete the evening, local band Ragged Company will take the stage to set your toes to tapping, perhaps even dancing the light fantastic.

The event is open to the public as space permits.