On January 1, 2022, Tweed & Company Theatre became the owner and operator of the Marble Arts Centre (MAC) in Actinolite. The building was gifted to the professional theatre company by the Tweed & Area Arts Council (T&AAC). The two groups began negotiations for the transfer in October, and the agreement was made official via a virtual signing on December 13, 2021.
The T&AAC was established in 2006 with the vision of enriching the cultural life of the community. The group purchased the historic marble building in Actinolite in 2008 and provided a space for artists of all ages and disciplines to grow their craft and celebrate their rich talents. The T&AAC has worked tirelessly to make many improvements to the MAC, achieved through the hard work and generosity of members/other volunteers, donors, local businesses and granting agencies. The first performance was held in 2010 and the building has been increasingly active ever since. The T&AAC is operated by a six-person Board of Directors: Vicki McCulloch (Chair), Roely DeVries (Vice Chair), Robert Giguere (Secretary/ Treasurer), Bonnie Marentette (Director), Don DeGenova (Director), and Margot Collins (Director).
Roely DeVries, Vice Chair and a founding Board member involved since the creation of the Arts Council, stated that “The development of the MAC as a cultural centre is a major achievement for the Arts Council and the Tweed community. The pandemic has been a real test for us as a charitable not-for-profit organization run by a small Board of Directors, many of whom are older. Revenue from events has dropped dramatically since March 2020, presenting a challenge to operate the building. We have a long relationship with Tweed & Co., and are confident in their ability to take the MAC into the future.” Vicki McCulloch, Chair of the T&AAC added that “The MAC will still be ‘our home’ in many ways, and the Arts Council will continue to present arts programming there. With a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, we are completing a strategic plan and have a new website in development. We look forward to sharing more about how the Arts Council will refocus and grow in 2022. Tweed & Co. have staff resources and a proven track record, and continue to grow as an arts and culture presence in the region. We look forward to continuing to work together with them now and into the future.”
“Our Board is extremely grateful to the T&AAC for this very generous gift”, said Don DeGenova, Tweed & Company Theatre President. “We look forward to staging theatrical productions including our original Canadian musicals in this beautiful theatre with its amazing acoustics. We will continue to partner with the Arts Council to ensure that the wonderful shows that they staged at the MAC continue.” DeGenova went on to note, “It has long been a dream of our Artistic Director Tim Porter, founder of Tweed & Company Theatre, to make Hastings County a theatre destination rivalling Drayton theatres in Southwestern Ontario. We are well on our way to making that a reality!”.
Tweed & Co. has been utilizing the Marble Arts Centre since 2010. “We have always considered the MAC to be our unofficial home and we are so humbled by, and grateful for, this incredible opportunity that the T&AAC has provided us with,” said General Manager Emily Mewett.
The Company is also continuing and expanding the youth theatre training program that will be housed at the MAC, and working with the Arts Council to make the building more accessible. “We have always loved this building and are in awe of what the Arts Council has been able to accomplish here. Our organizations have always worked so closely together and I think I am most excited for what both of our groups will be able to accomplish now. I think it makes sense to all involved that the theatre company will be running the MAC, and will actively support the activities of the Arts Council as they grow and expand inside and outside of this building,” said Artistic Director Tim Porter and added that “Being the full-time operators of the building will allow us to expand our programming and continue to grow our organization in all the right ways, while also supporting the arts council and continuing their programming. The future is bright.”
Tweed & Company Theatre is a not-for-profit charitable organization operated by locals Tim Porter of Tweed (Artistic Director) and Emily Mewett of Stirling (General Manager), as well as Rebecca Ballarin (Artistic Producer), Tricia Black (Creative Director), and Sarah Nairne (Development & Outreach Coordinator). Operations of the Company are overseen by a local Board of Directors consisting of Don DeGenova (President), Vicki McCulloch (Vice President), Melissa MacDonald (Treasurer), Sharon Pedersen (Secretary), Will Austin (Director), Tammy Austin (Director), Diana Cassidy-Bush (Director), Hali Letwin (Director), and Paula Fitzpatrick (Director).
Both Don DeGenova and Vicki McCulloch acknowledge the hard work in ensuring the smooth transfer of the MAC by Melissa MacDonald, T&CT Treasurer, and Bob Giguere, Treasurer T&AAC. Under the advice of their lawyers, DeGenova and McCulloch recused themselves from all MAC transfer discussions due to the potential for a conflict of interest. They sit on both Boards.