The Port Theatre Society’s board of directors and longstanding general manager/director of programming Bruce Halliday jointly announce Bruce’s impending retirement. A Vancouver Island native from Duncan, Bruce has spent his entire working life in the performing arts sector.
After becoming general manager in 2006, Bruce began curating the “Spotlight Series” showcasing diverse artists and acts from across the country and internationally. The series is often an anchor date creating regional or national tours leading to wider exposure for Canadian artists. Most importantly, the Spotlight Series exposes Nanaimo and mid-island audiences to cultural experiences that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. By securing important funding through the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Province of BC, the BC Touring Council, the BC Arts Council, Bruce has been able to present these spectacular shows at an affordable price. For those unable to afford tickets, Bruce has encouraged the Port Theatre team to find creative ways to welcome all segments of our population. Through the Port Theatre’s community partnership program, volunteer program, and Theatre Angels program, complimentary tickets can often be offered to those who value the arts! Thanks to Bruce’s leadership, staff and volunteers are empowered to meet the needs of everyone in our community.
Bruce has spent countless hours with emerging artists, local arts groups and professionals across the country providing advice and guidance. He is highly regarded in Canada’s venue managers peer networks and has always shared freely his experience and cheerful optimism. Managing the Port Theatre throughout the pandemic has been another monumental challenge that Bruce has tackled with intelligence, kindness, and thoughtfulness. The Port Theatre was able to launch livestreaming in order to stay viable when the theatre closed its doors to the public due to health and safety restrictions. Bruce has mentored his staff and all rental clients (community groups to promoters) to find positive solutions for everyone struggling to navigate the ongoing changes. He was the first to say at the beginning of COVID-19, that it’s not just about surviving, but thinking about the recovery process and how we manage our relationships into the future. Because of his strong ethical guidance, the theatre offered refunds to every patron who wanted one. These are just a few examples of why the Port Theatre has maintained such a positive reputation.
Bruce’s career has been marked by the width and variety of experience, working as lighting designer, production manager and technical director, for theatre companies, an instructor at The Banff Centre, special events for the Commonwealth Games and touring contemporary dance companies across Canada and overseas. He was part of the technical teams that opened three performing arts facilities in Canada: the Thunder Bay Concert Hall, the Belfry Theatre and the Port Theatre in 1998. Bruce was the Port Theatre’s technical director from 1998 until 2006 when he was promoted to general manager.
Bruce ensured that the technical systems of our new Nanaimo theatre were completed and that stage technicians were trained and worked safely. Since opening, the Port Theatre has received continuous rave reviews from local and touring artists and crews about the efficiency and excellence of the backstage experience; this is due in large part to what Bruce brought to the city’s new venue.
The board has accepted Bruce’s resignation knowing that he is leaving the theatre in a position of strength moving into the future. “While we all acknowledge that he will be greatly missed, we respect Bruce’s timing and thoughtfulness in initiating this transition process,” explains Brian Clemens, board president.
The Port Theatre prides itself on developing a culture of creativity, diversity, inclusion and community engagement. The board of directors, our deeply professional staff, our dedicated volunteers and Bruce want to assure our Nanaimo community as well as our regional, provincial and national communities that we will maintain our commitment to showing leadership and building community. The board of directors, on behalf of our community, thank Bruce for his dedication, exceptional leadership and incredible commitment and wish him every enjoyment of success and fulfillment as he moves into his retirement. The Port Theatre Society looks forward to maintaining a deep-rooted relationship with Bruce as his expertise will always be valued.
“I am so very grateful to this remarkable community and each of the treasured friendships that have inspired me throughout my time here. It has been a pleasure and an honour to work with our dedicated board of directors, the remarkable and unparalleled staff and of course our amazing volunteers in a leadership role throughout the years. It has been and is, only with their commitment to bringing the most exciting and diverse live performance to The Port Theatre, that we have seen local, regional and national successes, being recognized as industry leaders. Thank you all.” — Bruce Halliday
Bruce will work closely with the board to assist the organization through this leadership transition. Over the next few months, The Port Theatre Society will initiate a thorough search to secure the next positive leader for this cornerstone organization.