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Letter: Local, national artists and supporters issue joint letter on the future of Sudbury Theatre Centre

The community must be involved in determining the future of the Sudbury Theatre Centre — it can’t happen in the dark 
Sudbury Theatre Centre. (File)

Having witnessed the disastrous impact that a secretive and non-transparent process has had on Laurentian University, we are writing with concerns about the future of the Sudbury Theatre Centre (STC). 

As a group of key supporters and veteran artists, both local and national, it is our deep concern that STC’s Board — without consulting the community and its stakeholders — has quietly begun work that would end STC’s mandate as our city’s only professional English-language theatre, in its 50th season. In what might be described as a merger, or perhaps viewed more cynically as a takeover, the board would hand over operations of the building to another local company, YES Theatre. 

In March 2022, the artistic director of STC was let go midway through the season, and YES’s general manager was appointed as GM of STC. At least three members of the STC board, including the co-chair, have strong ties to YES Theatre as board members, key company members or performers. With such overlap in board membership, any decision to transfer STC operations to YES Theatre raises conflict of interest concerns.

To be clear, we value YES Theatre for its vital contributions to Sudbury’s arts and culture sector. However, we believe that Sudbury is stronger with both STC and YES remaining as vibrant, independent organizations. We also strongly believe that STC must continue in its role as a distinct theatre, one that supports local work and produces contemporary Canadian plays relevant to our community’s audiences. 

Any process determining a drastic change in the mandate of STC should involve the community and the stakeholders who invest in, and depend on, its continuation. We are calling for transparency by the board, meaningful engagement with its community and stakeholders in the form of a town hall on STC’s future, and that any key positions at the theatre be posted through a transparent hiring process that follows STC’s commitment to equity and diversity.

We also ask that the members of STC’s board of governors seek expert advice from outside stakeholders, and that they cooperate with funders and maintain STC’s standing within the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT). 

If we lose STC, we lose a cornerstone of our arts community. Due to the existence of STC, for 50 years Sudbury audiences have been able to experience world-class theatre productions, and our city has been a preferred destination for national theatre artists. The STC is the only English-language professional theatre situated between Barrie and Thunder Bay.  

Further, if we lose STC, we also lose the support for local theatre performers and creators. Since 2011, STC has rededicated its efforts in the support of plays created by local writers with its own Playwrights’ Junction, PlayMine, and Page to Stage programs, and through the Ontario Arts Council’s Theatre Recommender Grants program. STC’s Youth Drama and Musical Theatre classes offer the only theatre training for young people in our city, and its Students On Stage program gives many young actors their first opportunity to perform in front of an audience. 

With such initiatives, the STC has been the main support for the success of other local theatre companies and creators, including YES Theatre, PlaySmelter Festival, Theatre Cambrian, Encore Theatre, Crestfallen, Sudbury Performance Group, and One North Clown and Creation.

If the STC ceases to produce theatre, and abandons its mandate, then it will likewise give up its financial support from municipal, provincial, and federal funders. For a theatre, this means the end. It also means the end of support for local theatre creators, performers, playwrights, designers, and technicians. 

There has been a concerted effort to create paying opportunities in Sudbury for arts professionals, and the closing of this particular theatre would have a disastrous effect on this community, leaving some with no option but to move elsewhere. The ending of the STC, one of our city’s most well established artistic pillars, will also have untold reverberations on other arts organizations.

We appeal to the board of governors to engage in a transparent process that will ensure a successful and distinct future for our Sudbury Theatre Centre, and that we all come together to talk about what this future might look like. 


Kim Fahner, Matthew Heiti, Lara Bradley, Sarah Gartshore, Rick Duthie, Catherine Banks, Colleen Murphy, Eric Rose, Mansel Robinson, Pam Bustin, Ron Tough, Bob Ivey, Colin Hayward, Kristin Shepherd, Jenny Hazleton, France Huot, Ben Whiteman, Drew Saunders, Eamonn Reil, Charlene Saroyan, Adam Francis Proulx, Katherine Smith, Kelly Perras, Bill Sanders, Anita Ansamaa, Hilary Nichol, Alex Tétreault, Linda Hayward, Carrie Regenstreif, Kristina Donato, Pandora Topp, Mary Donato, Jessica Blaauw, Monique Beaudoin, Patricia Cano, Heather Campbell, Garrett Carr, Carolyn Otto, Linda Cartier, Laurie McGauley, Rod Carley, Tara Levesque, Marc Donato