Cobourg has Victoria Hall, the Loft Cinema, the Firehall theatre and Trinity Church as venues for theatre but Port Hope’s Capitol is known for its impressive productions and prolific entertainment events. Five years ago, Antonio Sarmiento moved from the now dormant Park Theatre to the Capitol and did a great job in boosting the quality and annual income of productions there. Antonio’s job was to be both the Managing Director and Artistic Director but the Capitol’s board had Soulpepper’s former executive director Leslie Lester do a “third-party assessment of its five-year strategic plan”. As a result, they have apparently decided to split Antonio’s job into two: Managing Director and Artistic Director. With this decision, Antonio submitted his resignation effective December 31, 2018.
Antonio told the Globe and Mail: “The Capitol theatre is looking to change artistic direction in 2019 – and it’s not in line with what I want to do, so I’m going to be moving on … It’s unfortunate they’re choosing to change artistic direction, but that’s the board of directors’ decision.”
Capitol President and Board Chair Olga Cwiek made the announcement on Monday and this has been reported in several news outlets (see links below). National media attention was drawn to the involvement of married couple Albert Schultz and Leslie Lester. Schultz was the former artistic director of Soulpepper, and Leslie Lester was Soulpepper’s managing director. Port Hope born actor and director Schultz left Soulpepper after a scandal in January 2018 and recently relocated back to his home in the Port Hope area.
The Globe and Mail reported that Cwiek said she hopes Lester will apply for a new full-time position as managing director of the Cameco Capitol Arts Centre, a position that was created following her consultations. But the Toronto Star reported that Cwiek did not expect Schultz to take the artistic rein. “I can’t speak for him, but he won’t be applying, he’s told me that.”
Whatever happens and whoever’s hired, it will mean a shake-up at the Capitol. It might mean there will be less of a turnover in staff. But let’s hope the next management can keep up the quality.
- Curtain Falls on Antonio Sarmiento Era – Pete Fisher’s Todays Northumberland
- Albert Schultz, Leslie Lester re-emerge behind the scenes – Chronicle Herald
- Soulpepper’s Leslie Lester and Albert Schultz resurfacing at Port Hope – Globe and Mail
- Leslie Lester and Albert Schultz resurfacing at Port Hope – Toronto Star
Update – 26 October 2018
The following was provided to Cobourg News blog as clarification to media reports including the post above and links provided.
STATEMENT – Issued by the Board of Directors of the Capitol Theatre Heritage Foundation
Re-Structuring at The Capitol Theatre
Success on the Stage and in the Community
October 25, 2018 – Port Hope, Ontario — This week, certain news stories quoted the President on an organizational re-structuring at the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope. Those stories were, by and large, accurate. But social media commentary and other subsequent reactions are not.
The Board wishes to state:
The Capitol Theatre is not hiring Albert Schulz or Leslie Lester full or part-time. These are the fundamental facts of this matter.
Now, as context for this: we are completing the 2nd year of the Capitol Theatre’s 5-year Strategic Plan. The Capitol has enjoyed great success at the box office in the past three years, but at the same time, our attention to the Theatre’s mandate as a non-profit community theatre has drifted.
As a result, we have a re-structuring process designed to create a management team with the desire, competence and experience needed for success on the stage and in the community: entertainment, education, new partnerships, amateur productions and a focus on youth.
The re-structuring involves five positions – Artistic Director, Managing Director, Manager of Finance, Manager of Patron Services and Technical Director. Two of these positions have been filled. The others are being posted nationally and an open recruiting process is underway. The new team will be announced once the positions are filled.
President of the Capitol Theatre Heritage Foundation