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Canada Council funds initiative to support touring goals of Alberta theatre makers.

A group of Calgary theatre companies have joined forces to fill a void and initiate a locally-based tour booking agency. Ghost River Theatre has received two years of funding from Canada Council to help kickstart the agency and along with Inside Out Theatre and Downstage, have committed to be the agency’s founding clients. The Canada Council grant also includes mentorship for the start-up from Dani Fecko of Vancouver’s Fascinator Management and Calgary’s Old Trout Puppet Workshop. They are pleased to announce that Christy Offer has been contracted to be their agent and create the agency, which will be an independent entity. Ms. Offer brings years of industry experience as a performing arts presenter at UBC and the Calgary International Children’s Festival to the role.

All three theatre companies invest significant time and resources creating original works which should ideally have extended lives on national and international stages. However, they have each faced challenges maximizing touring opportunities. A telling example is award-winning The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst, which took Ghost River Theatre several years to create. Despite a successful 2015 premiere and offers from festivals in New Zealand and Europe, GRT did not have the human resources to get international tours of the production off the ground. A key disadvantage for Calgary theatre makers has been the lack of an Alberta-based booking agency to represent them and take on the persistent work of building tours.

At a time when the local theatre community has been facing questions of viability, this agency start-up exemplifies artists proactively coming together to tackle a sectoral issue. The collective’s goal is to help establish a sustainable agency that will eventually create touring opportunities for a growing roster of regional companies and ultimately foster a vibrant culture of theatre making within the prairies.

About Christy Offer

Christy holds a Bachelor of Music and an MBA in Arts & Media Management. Previously as Artistic Presenting Manager of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, she was associate curator of the Chan Centre Presents series and developed the Chan Centre’s outreach series exploring the role of art in society - work for which she received a 2015 UBC President’s Staff Award. She moved to Calgary in 2015 and until 2018, was Curator of the multi-disciplinary Calgary International Children’s Festival. As a performing arts presenter, she has participated in numerous conferences and symposiums over the last decade, including APAP, WAA, IPAY, CAPACOA, and California Presenters, developing relationships with performing arts presenters, agents, and artists from throughout North America. She has also sat on numerous arts boards and committees, including as President of the Western Front Society artist-run centre in Vancouver.