Home Arts Community rallies to save MainLine Theatre

Community rallies to save MainLine Theatre

by Amanda L. Shore January 8, 2013
Community rallies to save MainLine Theatre

MainLine Theatre / Press photo

There will be no fat lady singing for the end of MainLine Theatre. The company was pleased to announce on Dec. 21 that they had surpassed their fundraising goal of $15,000, taking in a total of $20,000 in donations.

MainLine Theatre, a not-for-profit company supporting independent theatre in Montreal as well as hosting the annual St-Ambroise Fringe Festival, found themselves in need of funds near the end of 2012 and sent out a desperate plea through Facebook, press releases to the media and their subscriber mailing list. According to Amy Blackmore, who is currently stepping in for former artistic director Jeremy Hechtman, funds were needed due to changes in the management, increased overhead costs and a decrease in revenues at the end of 2012. A passionate community responded and MainLine surpassed their goal, ensuring that it wouldn’t be disappearing anytime soon.

“The funds will be enough to hold MainLine over until the end of the FRINGE in June. It’s essentially buying us time to rethink the model and move forward with a new way of operating. I will be working directly with the board of directors on a sustainability plan to ensure that the company will be sticking around for years to come,” said Blackmore.

The monumental success of MainLine’s fundraiser speaks volumes about Montreal’s feelings toward independent theatre. The overwhelming generosity displayed this past December goes to to show that many Montrealers will fight to keep theatres around the city alive and thriving.

A number of theatre companies, such as Tableau D’Hôte Theatre, SideMart Theatrical Grocery, Pumpkin Theatre and Fallen Angel Productions, call MainLine home. The fundraiser’s success speaks to how much the Montreal community appreciates MainLine for not only being the home of the St-Ambroise Fringe Festival, but for providing a place for innovative theatre to develop in the city.

“I think it goes to show how much the community cares not only about theatre, but about the space. We received hundreds of donations ranging from $4 to $3,000. Some students from Concordia passed a hat around in their classes to raise money to save ‘their’ home. MainLine belongs to the community, it’s their house,” said Blackmore. MainLine also hosts the annual Student Gala, now in its third year.

MainLine is still working out plans for the future — plans which now exclude Hechtman, former executive and artistic director of MainLine Theatre. Hechtman announced his resignation in a note posted on Facebook at the end of the fundraiser, explaining that, “Recent decisions by the board of directors have made it impossible for me to continue running MainLine Theatre according to my own artistic vision. And the board agrees. Therefore, the time has come for me to announce my departure from MainLine.” As previously mentioned, Blackmore will be taking over the duties of Executive and Artistic Director for the time being.

The Board of Directors and Blackmore are looking to facilitate a number of changes in the coming months that will hopefully keep MainLine out of the red, and continuing to provide a space for innovative, independent theatre. Blackmore for her part is hoping to maintain the same laid-back feel and professional standards that Mainline has become accustomed to. However, she would also like to recruit different disciplines of art to stage at MainLine. For instance, MainLine recently hosted its first ever visual arts exhibit and will be hosting an Art Matters event in March. Blackmore, a former student of contemporary dance at Concordia, is also trying to encourage more dance productions at the theatre.

Additionally, Al Lafrance will be filling in as interim general manager until the end of July.

“I am really excited about it,” said Blackmore. “He is a talented young administrator who really believes in the company. We are lucky to have him.”

Coming up in the 2013 season, MainLine will be hosting the Bouge d’ici Dance Festival (Jan. 11-19), the Student Gala (Feb. 14-16), Bang It Out by Cameryn Moore (April) and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris by In Your Face Entertainment (March).

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1 comment

Donovan King January 10, 2013 - 14:55

The Mainline Theatre is responsible for taking over then trademarking the Fringe Festival (yes, the word “Fringe” is actually trademarked!), then naming it after a corporation (St. Ambroise). They also ban artists who’s politics they disagree with (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsS0BuVtnjE). The fact that an infringement festival exists in the city attests to the fact that Mainline is faux-indy at best (yup, they kicked artists out of the Fringe Festival after their corporate sponsor felt slighted). If Mainline Theatre wants to get serious about indy theatre, they need to scrap all the corporate BS and get into the business of supporting indy artists. They should start by reimbusing the ticket sales from the CAR STORIES show they kicked out of the Fringe in 2001 (plus the pay-to-play fee).

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