Small wants to start talks with Showcase, ARHS

Darrell Cole
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Amherst Mayor Robert Small is urging Showcase Productions and the ARHS theatre foundation to go back to the table to find a compromise that would allow the theatre group to continue using the Susan Taylor Theatre at the high school.

AMHERST – Amherst’s mayor doesn’t want Showcase Productions to leave the community.

In light of the theatre company’s announcement last week that it’s leaving the Susan Taylor Theatre because of new regulations on its use, Robert Small said he has been asked by council to write a letter to both Showcase Productions and the theatre’s operators to see if a common ground can be found.

“I don’t believe we have any authority on how the theatre at the high school is operated, but saying that I have been requested by council to send a letter to both the foundation and Showcase Productions asking if there is anything we can do to resolve the issue,” Robert Small said.  “I want to make it clear that the Town of Amherst supports theatre in the community and we’re willing to do anything we can to help.”

When the new high school opened in 1999 the town and the county put $200,000 toward the construction of the theatre.

Showcase board member Michelle Hicks said the theatre company’s next production, Happy Days: The Musical, will not be at the high school after she said the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board put in place new rules that make it next to impossible to stay there.

Hicks said the company has given about $14,000 back to the community through its support of scholarships, awards and bursaries at ARHS as well with its support of spring musicals at Spring Street Academy and Cumberland North, helping Don Miller’s youth group and bringing Neptune Theatre to area schools.

The mayor said the town appreciates what Showcase Productions has done for the community and hopes to find a way it can stay and continue to use the high school. However, he admitted, at the end of the day there may not be a solution that can be found.

“Amherst has benefitted from having lots of theatre groups. Some aren’t as large as Showcase Productions, but there are comedy troupes and special events and fundraisers. We will always have the theatre in Amherst,” the mayor said.  “I would hate to see Showcase Productions leave, but I also understand what could happen if this can’t be resolved.”

Twitter: @ADNdarrell


Organizations: Susan Taylor Theatre, Amherst supports theatre, Central Regional School Board Street Academy Neptune Theatre

Geographic location: AMHERST, Chignecto, Cumberland North

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Recent comments

    July 22, 2013 - 09:57

    It is simple, really. All Showcase Productions Society wants to enable it to continue to perform and raise funds for the students of Amherst and Cumberland County, is a consistent and fair rental price that is charged to everyone. This has not been happening over the years. The second thing what Showcase needs is time to set up our set, have a couple of run-throughs so the cast can become familiar with the set, timing, space between door, windows, and have lighting adjusted to flood the correct areas of the stage. This cannot be done in the time frame that the theatre manager has recently allocated in their new set of guidelines. No amateur group can do this and be moved out within one week’s time. Why has the air changed so much between the Susan Taylor Theatre management and Showcase Productions? It is my opinion that Mr. Janes believes the questions being asked about the use of the theatre are coming from Showcase Productions when in fact, the questions were originated by members of the public, expressed to the newly formed Amherst Arts Council, Because Ms Hicks is one of the founding members of Showcase and also has been asked to serve on the Amherst Arts Council as a representative of the performing arts, Mr. Janes’ believes Showcase Productions is attempting to pry into his financial records. Not true, Showcase does not give a damn about your financial records as the Arts Committee has told you before, publically.

  • Larry Fowler
    July 21, 2013 - 07:40

    Theatre is a very important "must" for any vibrant & culturally healthy community. Unfortunately the people of Amherst have never embraced this fact. Actually just the opposite has taken place resulting in the crushing of any effort to have a theatre group succeed in Amherst. I have holidayed in Amherst for many summers and enjoyed what little theatre has been available with venues such as Tantramar Theatre. Now another theatre group bites the dust with nothing more than a must write lip service letter from the good major. Too bad for Amherst. Amherst theatre -RIP!

  • lol
    July 19, 2013 - 17:42

    He doesn't want to see this leave, but all the jobs leaving Amherst he is ok with. what a bunch or morons.

  • Good News For The Arts
    July 19, 2013 - 13:41

    Glad to see the Town is getting involved. The ARHS (Susan Taylor) Theatre is within (a leased) CCRSB school. As such, CCRSB needs to be at the table in any discussion about Theatre Use Guidelines. The Guidelines that are posted on the ARHS Website were developed by the Community Use Committee. Link to Community Use Committee Minutes The Community Use Committee is comprised of two Amherst & Cumberland County Theatre Foundation members (the Chair and the Vice Chair) and Two School Board Members (CCRSB's Family of Schools Supervisor and the ARHS Principal). If a discussion is to take place between Showcase and 'the theatres operators' , as quoted in the article above, I trust Mayor Small and Council are aware the 'operators' are the Amherst & Area Theatre Foundation and CCRSB.