Port Hope’s Capitol to be “restructured”

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 Sarmiento
Antonio Sarmiento

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.


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.

Olga Cwiek,
President of the Capitol Theatre Heritage Foundation
Capitol Theatre

Print Article: 


Click to Notify me of
Walter L. Luedtke

I must confess that this is not the finest hour for the Cobourg and Port Hope thespian community.

Walter L. Luedtke

“From my perspective, Leslie is pretty extraordinarily talented … If she applied for the position, that would be pretty wonderful.” The Cameco Capitol Arts Centre president and board chair Olga Cwiek, as quoted in the Globe and Mail.
“The Capitol Theatre is not hiring Albert Schulz (sic) or Leslie Lester full or part-time.” Ms Qwiek above.
Something must have happened here.
And it’s interesting to note that she blames ‘social media commentary’ for whatever happened.

Wally Keeler

“pretty extraordinarily talented”
“pretty wonderful”

If that is a demonstration of the articulateness of the Cameco Capitol Arts Centre president and board chair, then I would be skeptical of the quality of her perspective.

“she blames social media commentary”

Who doesn’t? It’s a worthless throwaway comment.


If this (all below) is what “culture” brings to you…you can keep the culture and don’t ask any taxpayer to subsidize it for the so called “culture patrons”.

Wally Keeler

A letter from The Northumberland Players Board of Directors: The Northumberland Players does not condone any behaviour that puts its members and volunteers in harmful situations. The community theatre company has been working in the last year to develop safety and harassment policies that are consistent with up to date industry standards. The introduction to these policies will be introduced at our Annual General Meeting and the training process will begin in November 2018. This review process was triggered by recent harassment issues in the theatre industry including the incidents at Soulpepper while Albert Schultz and Leslie Lester were in charge. The recent implications that Albert Schultz and Leslie Lester would possibly be hired in any capacity in the future at the Capitol Theatre is disturbing. The Players have rented the facility for their annual musical for nearly two decades and are scheduled to do the musical The Drowsy Chaperone in Feb. 2019. We are in discussions with Capitol Board President Olga Cwiek in order to communicate how the values inherent in such a decision does not align with those of our organization. We have had a positive business relationship with The Capitol Theatre and at one time donated $50,000… Read more »

Walter L. Luedtke

“Northumberland Players guarantees its members, volunteers and patrons it will not participate in any theatrical events at the Capitol if the Capitol Theatre chooses to appoint an individual who has had a proven record or history of harassment of any kind.”
A ‘proven record’? One wonders what the Northumberland Players know, that the rest of us don’t.
The lawyer representing Albert Schultz has stated that the lawsuits alleging he sexually harassed multiple actresses have been “resolved.” CBC


“or history of harassment of any kind.” Would you want your granddaughter involved in a production there?
And, the lawyer representing Schultz says it’s been “resolved”. The judge of the Cameco hearing says that case been resolved too. You’re OK with Schultz’s lawyer but not the judge?

Walter L. Luedtke

As of this morning, the Canada Revenue Agency is appealing the Cameco ruling.
It will take about two years for the Federal Court of Appeal to hear and decide the case.
So nothing is ‘resolved’.
Interesting to note though, that the Canadian Taxpayer Federation is taking no interest in the billion dollar Cameco case. Instead, they are ‘coming off the bench’ against Canada’s feeble, climate-saving carbon tax.

Jason Beatty

“Out of court settlement resolved” or a different type of resolve?

Wally Keeler

How were they “resolved” Walter?


The lawyer representing Schultz said the lawsuits were resolved “to his clients satisfaction”. Four women came forward with allegations of being sexually harassed by Schultz and there must have been enough substance to them because Soulpepper dismissed Schultz. I would assume the four women who came forward were satisfied with the resolution also or we would have heard more about this situation.

Walter L. Luedtke

The civil lawsuits have been settled and to everyone’s – The Soulpepper Company, the four women plaintiffs and Mr. Schultz – satisfaction. The terms of the settlement remain unknown. There were never any criminal charges.
Therefore it is shocking that The Board of Directors of the Northumberland Players would claim that charges of sexual harassment against Leslie Lester have been ‘proven’.
Ms Cwiek was only considering Ms Lester for employment at the Cameco Capitol.
The Players’ Board smeared Ms Lester and Capitol Board caved.


Therefore it is shocking that The Board of Directors of the Northumberland Players would claim that charges of sexual harassment against Leslie Lester have been ‘proven’.

They never said that charges against anyone were proven. (Least of all Leslie Lester).
What they said was“…if the Capitol Theatre chooses to appoint an individual who has had a proven record or history of harassment of any kind.”
Geez, and I’m told that I have a reading and comprehension problem.

“or history of harassment of any kind.” Would you want your granddaughter involved in a production there?

Reed Giroux

The palace coup? What’s really going on? Wasn’t Mr. Shultz cleared of the allegations against him?
Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs!

Betsy Miller

If it was “resolved”, why was Shultz dismissed?
Why did he not sue for wrongful dismissal?
Where there is smoke there is fire!
And he won’t be hired by the Capitol? Why is that if things are so “resolved” What about paid contracts?
Will he be on paid contracts? Lots of questions..


Mr. Shultz was NOT cleared of the allegations against him. The case was settled out of court.


Mrs Jenkins

how very very sad

Jann Stefoff

Bravo! THis is great news, congrats to the Capitol!

Reed Giroux

Okay! Why is this good news? Whatever happened to peace, order and good government?


Maybe now there WILL be peace for the female employees at The Capitol. This is…finally…somewhat better government. About time the Board did the right thing.


Why such a huge turnover in staff during his tenure?

Wally Keeler

He has a tendency to pursue excellence, rigorously.


He has a tendency to pursue something rigorously alright, but not excellence. More like…blondes.

Wally Keeler

So are you suggesting Harvey Weinstein behaviour? Call your local #MeToo.


What does that mean, Wally Keeler? Was that an attempt at sarcasm?




Good grief! What a loss indeed. Why do us critters insist on fixing what ain’t broke?!

Lori Keilty

Totally agree! Antonio has been instrumental in bringing tremendous talent and tourism to Port Hope. I really do not understand that woman, Olga, and the Board. So upset about losing Antonio!

Walter L. Luedtke

Sorry to see the departure of Antonio’s drive and artistry.
On the other hand, I have been a subscriber to the Soulpepper Theatre over the years. It would be splendid if Leslie Lester and Albert Schultz could find a home in some form at the Cameco Capitol.
Just a note on Cameco. That Saskatoon company has burnished its image as being a local ‘good corporate citizen’ by funding some projects here, most prominently the Cameco Capitol Arts Centre.
It has always amazed me how the local arts community has held its nose in accepting Cameco money.
It is estimated that Cameco has stiffed the Canadian taxpayer in the billions of dollars by marketing Canadian uranium products through a ‘sham’ branch office in Switzerland and paying low taxes in that country.
While it is true that the Tax Court gas recently ruled in Cameco’s favour, Revenue Canada will most likely appeal. So far Cameco has been able to join Apple, Starbucks and Amazon in top ranks of corporate tax avoiders.
More here: https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/cameco-says-the-tax-court-has-ruled-in-its-favour-in-its-dispute-with-cra

Wally Keeler

Tax avoiders. Well, there is the notion that a corporation has better uses for its money than to give it to government (the most uncreative force on the planet). Cameco may have been displeased at the lack of funding for the arts by The Govt, so it stepped up to the plate to put its money directly into the things it thinks would benefit the community. The corp gets gets a tax break for itself. Govts have a greater tendency to prefer mediocrity because of its safety from public blowback. Private business has a keener eye for creative excellence and the associated risks of creativity. The Tax Court ruled in Cameco’s favour. So how is it that you have made the judgement that “Cameco has stiffed the Canadian taxpayer…?” When corporations invest in local cultures, they alleviate the taxpayers of having to pay for it.

Old Sailor

Wally, I remember being an expert witness for the “defendant” at a Tax Court of Canada trial. The judge out of the blue ended the trial and awarded his decision in favour of the defendant. To everyone’s surprise. I later found out that the judge had a bad cold and wanted to go home. Perhaps CRA should have offered their judge a slurp of Buckley’s before rendering a decision in the Cameco case?

Reed Giroux

If this is the case, the judge needs to be sanctioned.A retrial is in order, or an appeal. I am hoping that the CRA ( Canada Revenue Agency) formerly Revenue Canada, appeals.

Reed Giroux

Wow! A real republican/harsh view of government, Wally Keeler. Really, do you truly have that view of the institution of government in general? Government is mostly about services which we need day-to-day. Leading by example or being creative is always discouraged by more cautious and conservative types inside and outside of government, so it tends to be risk-averse and plays it safe, hence mediocrity. When bold or challenging ideas are presented, there is always the risk that the hoped-for project will underperform or not work, hence the not trying due to public blowback. Not much liking for thinking differently in the public’s mind. People anywhere make mistakes, but it is forgivable when at least an experiment was well reasoned and explained-there are never any guarantees in life, are there? Corporations are also risk-averse. It’s hard to get people to sign on to the new and different because we are by nature risk-averse and avoidant. It’s the risk-takers who have brought great things and ideas to our world, so let’s give them their due! As with governments, it’s hard to break the safety mode thinking of thinking at board meetings too. Everone always disagrees about what is a good idea to… Read more »

Wally Keeler

“Leading by example or being creative is always discouraged by more cautious and conservative types inside and outside of government, so it tends to be risk-averse and plays it safe, hence mediocrity.” Mediocrity is the product of bloated bland glands, often as a result of consuming too much ideological pap from the left, right or centre. That is why govt, whatever level, is uncreative. It caters to the needs of the majority for votes. Individuals are creative, not demographic groups. Liberal types inside govt tend to take excessive risks (with other peoples money)(they call it generosity) spreading it around to win votes, thereby producing mediocrity on a larger scale. Govt is more risk-averse than private enterprise. Govt does not generate wealth but private enterprise does. In any instance, it is the individual that is creative. Groups, committees, govts, are incapable of creativity. They can only encourage and facilitate creativity for individuals who have it. A creative individual like Elon Musk developed the Giga Factory, Tesla, The Boring Company and SpaceX; meanwhile the govts of Canada (Cons, Libs) can’t decide, decade after decade, what fighter jet to purchase. Creative individuals create private enterprise, not govts. Reed Giroux, I spent several years… Read more »

Reed Giroux

Yes, that is right. How in a direct as possible way would you say that this applies to the situation here at The Capitol Theatre?

Astrid Nordholt

Who can possibly fill Antonio’s shoes? The productions he has mounted have been nothing short of stellar. What a loss to the area. Best wishes, Antonio, I know you’ll shine wherever you go.

Wally Keeler

I wish the Capitol well, but I am skeptical that they will find a person with the depth of creativity that Antonio brought to the theatre. It was a pleasure when he was working the PARK theatre to watch him map the stage for projections, install layers of moving images with actors. The Board made their decision and it remains to be seen if the Board can find the quality of high level creativity in another individual. Antonio made the correct decision to pursue his creativity where he has the full control to manifest it on his terms.

Reed Giroux

Wally Keeler, I would support Antonio too to do things on his own terms too; after all, why hire someone, especially him, if you are going to meddle and interfere at first sight of something you don’t know or like. Kind of like Dagwood Bumstead when the Plumber visits and gives his “advice”, annoying and bothering the guy; he asks Dagwood for his rubber mallet which he then uses to clobber Dagwood’s foot driving him away and letting get on with his job! To the board of the Capaitol, you ninnies, shame on you!

Good luck to you Antonio, I’ll follow you on the net to see what’s next for you!

Wally Keeler

“after all, why hire someone, especially him, if you are going to meddle and interfere at first sight of something you don’t know or like.”

I doubt that any of that happened.


Antonio Sarmiento brought a level of professional theatre productions to The Capitol Theatre which were truly enjoyable, it was with pride that I would tell outsiders to the Cobourg and Port Hope area about the wonderful productions at The Capitol Theatre, a beautiful atmospheric theatre in our local community. I was very disappointed to learn that Antonio was leaving. I hope that the new management will maintain the high theatre production quality that Antonio brought to our community.

Jason Beatty

Not sure what precipitated this decision, but I believe this will be a huge loss with Antonio Leaving. I’m not confident the theater will continue at the level it’s maintained in the past years. Time will tell.