FOR STEVE BELLAMY, his new role as chief executive officer at Confederation Centre of the Arts is a dream job.
He has been involved in the arts and heritage sector across the country for over 25 years (most recently as Dean of Creative & Performing Arts at Humber College), but like many people who leave Atlantic Canada to pursue opportunities elsewhere, he dreamed of someday coming back to the city where he spent his childhood.
“Our family has always loved P.E.I. and we used to come back every year on vacation,” Steve said. “Now I have the opportunity not only to work in my field but to work in a place I love.”
Before assuming the Dean’s job at Humber, he taught music recording and producing at the Toronto school. During the course of his career, he also held faculty positions at McGill University, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and The Hartt School of Music, Dance and Theatre at the University of Hartford.
As a music producer and recording engineer, Steve spent many years in Montréal, Banff and Toronto working with leading jazz and classical artists. He also founded his own record label (Addo Records), and his recordings have received six JUNO awards and many nominations.
Steve said one of the things that struck him almost immediately upon his return was the big contribution the Centre makes to the economic and social life of P.E.I. He noted an economic impact study compiled in 2017 shows the Centre contributes $27 million to the province’s GDP and a labour income impact of more than $16 million.
Built in 1964 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference that led to Confederation, the Centre has a mandate to inspire and celebrate, through heritage and the arts, the origins and evolution of Canada as a nation.
The Centre is now in the process of developing a five-year plan the new CEO said will “help clarify our mission and goals locally, regionally and nationally.” Steve stated a key component is building relationships and partnerships with the other players in the arts and heritage community, as well as the Indigenous community, governments, businesses, and academic institutions, among others.
Bellamy is proud of what Confederation Centre offers, not only the well-known theatre highlighted by The Charlottetown Festival, but a world class art gallery, the heritage programming featuring the Symons Medal Lecture and Confederation Players, arts education and French programming—which collectively attract about 300,000 people to the Centre each year. And he is particularly proud of the Confederation Centre Young Company—a group of aspiring actors, musicians and dancers drawn from across the country who tell their stories of Canada in words, dance and song and bring attention to Canada’s growing diversity.
Having arrived last September when the summer theatre season was winding down, Steve said he is looking forward to the 2019 season of The Charlottetown Festival. Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ will be back for its 55th year leading the line-up. He is particularly proud of Atlantic Blue (created by Tara MacLean), a celebration of East Coast performers that has been playing at a smaller Island theatre for the last two summers.
“That is something we would like to do more of— working with other theatres in P.E.I. and across the region, to help support and develop shows so they can grow and be enjoyed by a larger audience,” he said. “We also have co-productions with other theatres and galleries across the country, such as the Grand Theatre, Citadel Theatre, Owens Art Gallery, and others which have proven successful.”
He paid tribute to the top-notch artistic leadership team at the Centre including Artistic Director Adam Brazier, Art Gallery Director Kevin Rice and Curator Pan Wendt, and Peggy Reddin, who is Director of Arts Education programming.
Steve is also hoping to create more partnerships within the business community. He explained “…our sponsors are very happy with the return on investment from being associated with Confederation Centre and I hope we can convince more businesses to partner with us.”