Performing Arts Centre gives select crowd a “sneak peak” at the newest schedule – looks great. Jann Aden is part of the program.

theartsBy Pepper Parr

May 22, 2014


She was blonde, chatty, good with words and an infectious laugh.  He was staid, sounded a bit shy but certainly knew what he was talking about.

The two of them sat in stiff chairs facing each other on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre (PAC) with all the instruments a good band would need to really rock the building off to the side.  You knew instantly that these two were not going to be playing any of those instruments.

Connie Smith, an interviewer of some renown, and Brian McCurdy, PAC Executive Director sat before an audience that filled three quarters of the Main Stage to talk about the fourth year program that would go on sale to the public June 2.
The evening was a “sneak preview” of the 2014/2015 program before an audience of multiple ticket buyers and capital donours who soaked up every word.  They do need to learn to clap more often though.

The Centre has had its trials and tribulations with the public.  It has its core following – they are true believers and will support the organization almost forever.  But there is a large part of the city that still doesn’t  buy into culture all that much and doesn’t want to see tax money used to support it.

Past deficits certainly didn’t help nor did a subsidy request that people expect to be at around half a million a year balloon to over $1.2 million.  That situation saw the first Executive Director exit stage left and some key people leave the board.


That empty month on the calendar is empty anymore – Brian McCurdy gave the public its first look at the 2014/15 program – BOFFO!

McCurdy describes himself as a “reformed trombone player”  who once shared a stage with Bob Hope at the Community Auditorium in Thunder Bay. “Not only did I get to play in the backup band, I also played a round of golf with Mr Hope in the afternoon” said McCurdy.

You see him in a blue blazer and grey flannel trousers – effectively going about his business.  The program released last night is pure McCurdy – his finger prints are all over it.

He has managed, at least on paper, to press all the right buttons and satisfy almost everyone.  The proof will come when the program goes on sale to the public early in June. 

The arts and culture business is dynamic and it is difficult to project revenue with a high degree of certainty but McCurdy thinks he can get the subsidy to less than $500,00 – which will please a lot of people in this town.

The Plastique performance is a total delight.  Check it out for yourself.

Culturally McCurdy covers all the bases: jazz, opera, classical music, dance and a solid set of programs for the young, young set.  There is quite a bit of Cuban material, more jazz than I expected along with a couple of purely Canadian nuggets.  The only thing missing was a one night stand by Jimmy Tapp.

There are 16 different program series; there will be 65 productions and 93 performances including the National Ballet doing the Nut Cracker Suite at Christmas.


The Nutcracker Suite will delight what will undoubtedly be SOLD OUT audiences.

The Cushion Concert Series will return and there will be a Community on Stage program that will involve a number of the Burlington favourites.  In the past some people complained, rather loudly, that the city had a brand new facility but the local performance groups didn’t get a chance to actually use the stage.  The prices they were asked to pay seemed  very steep to them.  McCurdy and his team are bringing in the Student Theatre for  two productions; the Burlington Concert Band has three productions scheduled.  The Burlington Footnotes will run for two days with three performances and the Brott Music Festival will run from June 19th to August 14th in the Main Theatre.

McCurdy has created what he calls Series and has one with Jazz, another focused on Comedy, then one with a family angle – the Gruffalo is back.  Dance,  Blues & Rock have a Series as well.  The Entertainer Series will include Jann Arden and John McDermott.

There is a “Marvel” Series and a Global Beat Series.  Each series is made up of three to four performances.

The Opera Series will present  Pucicini’s Tosca, Verdi’s Nabucco and Mozart’s Don Giovanni all done as cinemas coming from the Royal Opera House.

This reporter had to leave early so I didn’t see the standing ovation Brian McCurdy should have gotten at the close of the evening.  The challenge now is to see how it goes at the Box Office.  If Burlington doesn’t come through with SOLD OUT signs on most of these programs – the city doesn’t deserve a Performing Arts Centre.


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4 comments to Performing Arts Centre gives select crowd a “sneak peak” at the newest schedule – looks great. Jann Aden is part of the program.

  • Mr.Bean

    Two weeks ago we took the kids to The Lion King in Toronto, just as we did 13 years ago before our PAC was available. Things have not changed as the PAC has not offered our family anything worth attending. Sad.

    Editor’s note:
    Mr Bean wants to take a much closer look at the PAC offerings this year – there is a very diversified program – what is sad is that Mr. Bean won’t give his own community a bit of a chance.

  • greg.fabian

    Seriously, we are subsidizing to the tune of $500k to $1.2m per year? Good grief. Another white elephant? Another boondoggle?

    Perhaps some advertising would help people know what it is, where it is, and what it offers. I know a lot of people that don’t know about it.

    • Tony Pullin

      Greg, I often thought that a scrolling, lighted marquee sign promoting the next event would be a good idea.

  • greg.fabian

    We could have made the pier 10 feet shorter to cover the $500k defecit. And then another 10 feet shorter to cover the……..well, you get the idea.