Magnetic North Theatre Festival launch cancelled abruptly

The future of the 2017 Magnetic North Theatre Festival seems to now be in doubt as organizers have cancelled Tuesday’s 11 a.m. launch announcement with no new date scheduled.

The annual festival, which is co-presented by the National Arts Centre, was set to run June 16-24 in Ottawa. It brings together some of the best in Canadian theatre and plays Ottawa every second year.

In a phone call, managing director Nancy Oakley said that the launch had been postponed “to address funding issues.” Asked if the festival would go ahead this year, she said, “That is our hope.”

Oakley said the seven companies set to perform at this summer’s festival had been contacted about the cancellation. She said the festival is going to talk to stakeholders this week, and an update on this year’s plans will be forthcoming. Magnetic North Theatre Festival travels to a different community every other year. The first festival was in 2003. Since then it has been in Edmonton, St. John’s, Vancouver, Kitchener-Waterloo, Calgary and Halifax.

Carl Martin, senior communications adviser at the NAC, said his organization hasn’t yet met with Magnetic North about the festival’s funding issues and doesn’t know the full nature of the problem.

“We’re concerned and we’re very fond of this festival and want to see it succeed,” said Martin. “We will do what we can to be helpful.”

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Patrick Langston covered English professional theatre for the Ottawa Citizen from 2008 to 2016. He also wrote about music, travel, the local housing industry and other subjects for the paper. Patrick continues to contribute to Ottawa Magazine, Diplomat and International Canada Magazine, and other publications.