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Jerry Doiron reflects on his role as director of the IBCPA

The newly appointed director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Jerry Doiron sits down for a chat with Meredith Dault, Senior Communications Officer.

MD: You started in your new role with the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts (IBCPA) in June. How are things going so far?

JD: I moved to Kingston from Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is a tiny hamlet. Being a Toronto native, I’m thriving in being in a more urban environment again! And you know, there hasn’t been anything that I haven’t liked so far about Kingston. Since arriving, I have been making an effort to meet with lots of people from the university and broader Kingston arts communities, and have been having a lot of great conversations about what the IBCPA is going to mean for Queen’s and the city.

MD: Before coming to Queen’s you worked as planning director with the Shaw Festival, as well as with theatre companies like Toronto’s Necessary Angel and Theatre Passe Muraille. How did you find yourself in that world?

JD: Though I studied business in university, I always knew I didn’t want to go down a traditional business path. In my last year at school, I had to do a marketing presentation and chose to focus on the National Ballet of Canada. I had become interested in dance because my long-suffering trumpet coach was very interested in the art form. The experience with the National opened my eyes to the world of arts admin that I didn’t really know existed. About a year later one of the university’s career counselors told me about a three month gig at Theatre Passe Muraille. That contract ultimately lasted 4 and a half years. And twenty-nine years later, I left producing theatre to come to Queen’s.

MD: How does working in a university setting differ from working for a stand-alone festival like the Shaw?

JD: I think the biggest difference is that while I always want to be pursuing artistic excellence, I also have to make sure that my programming is in line with the strategic goals of the university. That said, I don’t necessarily see that as a limitation! The university’s goals and objectives are wonderful, and from a programming aspect, there is a lot to work with . I think there is also a different kind of security in knowing that the university’s success doesn’t hinge on the success or failure of the IBCPA. That said, Queen’s has made a significant investment in the building, so there is no less pressure – it’s just different. And at this stage in my career, that’s what I wanted: something different.

MD: What can we expect when it comes to programming at the IBCPA?

JD: So far I have been focused on three things: celebrating tradition, diversity and, innovation. There will be a continuation of the Grant Hall series, for sure. I’m also looking at representing the fact that the IBCPA is multi-disciplinary space and that Queen’s is a multi-cultural community with interests that go outside of traditional European classical music. I want to find more hands-on way to involve students in the programming of the building, so they have a strong sense of ownership, too. One of my priorities is to have visiting artists connect with the Queen’s community, whether that means doing a casual Q&A with students, or a master class. My biggest fear would be that the IBCPA be seen as a pristine recital hall with no real connection to what Queen’s is ultimately about! I think it is a hope of Isabel and Alfred Bader that the building will be full of life day and night. It’s my job to make sure that they are not disappointed.

MD: The IBCPA is still a construction site at the moment. When will you to begin using the building?

JD: We hope to get access to the building in January and can then start conducting tours for staff and students. Right now the building is fairly hidden, so I don’t think a lot of people realize just how beautiful it’s going to be when it’s done! The people working on it are quite literally, world famous. By next summer we will start tweaking the actual performance spaces and get rehearsals happening. Our goal is that when students arrive in September 2014, it won’t be the first day of school for us, even if it is for them!

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts officially opens in September 2014. For more information, visit http://www.queensu.ca/badercentre