Why an Interview,,,

Over the years we have been able to meet and talk with some very interesting people. They have shared with us their knowledge and have provided us with a great deal of insight as to how and why festivals and events work and why they are so important to our communities and to the Province of Ontario. With this in mind, we decided that we wanted you to meet and hear from some of the wonderful people who work so hard to provide us all with such wonderful Ontario Festivals and Events! We are pleased and proud to present "THE INSIDE SCOOP"!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Westben Arts Festival Theatre - Donna Bennett - soprano, pianist/composer

Donna Bennett & Brian Finley
Westben Arts Festival Theatre

I will continue with THE INSIDE SCOOP, with Scoop from the Westben Arts Festival Theatre. Here I have the privilege of interviewing Donna Bennett Marketing Director, soprano, pianist/composer.

A little history about Westben “Westben’s primary venue, The Barn is located three kilometres north-west of Campbellford, on gently rolling farmland previously owned by three generations of the West family. West School and West Cemetery lie just to the north, while the area’s principal brick-making machine sits in retirement in the front field. Purchased by the Bennett family in the 1960’s, the area was dubbed “Westben,” Westben’s co-founders, Donna Bennett & Brian Finley built The Barn in 2000 with the help of the community. The Westben Board of Directors formed in 1999 and received charitable status in the year 2000. Conceived to compliment its naturally beautiful setting, the timber-frame structure was designed and built by Didier Schvartz of Lakefield’s Sun Wood Company. With its massive fir and hemlock beams and locally-milled pine ceiling, The Barn has excellent acoustics. Walls and doors roll back to allow music to waft over the surrounding meadow. The stage is elevated by 4 feet. 300 cushioned theatre seats are located directly in front of the stage in 20 rows of 15 seats, all with an unobstructed view. Each of the two wings can accommodate an additional 50 chairs which offer good proximity to the stage and generally good sight-lines. These seats are offered at a discounted rate.” This year, Westben "is trilled to present the world premiere of a brand new Canadian Folk Opera, The Auction".

I was wondering how Donna chose the direction of the thyme for the season and what the process entails. Ms. Bennett shares with us … “We wanted to open the Concerts at The Barn Season with the premiere of this new opera.”

For many festivals and events, it is critical to have volunteers! ... I asked Donna how many volunteers Westben required for the season and do you have any systems in place to “keep them happy”. I wasn’t surprised to learn ... “Westben has an amazing volunteer coordinator – Marilyn Keene who had 2 assistants that organized 250 volunteers. It takes 10-20 volunteers on site per concert.”
(To Be Continued)

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