Sage Theatre begins Ignite Festival with fundraiser

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Sage Theatre will be kicking off their annual Ignite Festival this year by holding a fundraising gala, the first of several fundraising initiatives the company is looking at hosting over the next few years to replace an upcoming $20,000 shortfall.

With the elimination of the $15.5-million community spirit program in the 2013–2014 provincial budget, Sage Theatre’s three-year grant was not renewed and they are now looking at other sources of funding.

“For this year we’re more or less all right, but we’re trying to be proactive about it,” artistic director Kelly Reay says. “That’s a lot of money and if we’re not proactive about it we’re not going to be able to replace it overnight.”

While he says the amount — about five per cent of their budget — won’t drastically alter Sage Theatre’s programming in the coming years, fundraising will help ensure they can provide the same quality of entertainment their audience has come to expect.

Reay says the end of the three-year grant cycle comes after they began feeling the effects from the downturn in the economy in 2008.

“We’ve been feeling those effects for the past couple years now,” Reay says. “It took a few years to catch up with the arts I think.”

The kick-off event will be held in the Joyce Doolittle Theatre at the Pumphouse Theatre on June 12, at 7:30 p.m. and proceeds will support the Ignite Festival in coming years.

The Ignite Festival has grown since it began in 2005 and now includes 75 up-and-coming artists in dance, visual arts and music who get the opportunity to work with professional mentors.

The fundraising gala will provide live music, a sneak preview to the festival and the opportunity to meet the artists.

“It’s a great opportunity for our patrons and our supporters to get a peek behind the curtain at what we do and why the support for the arts is so important,” Reay says.