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Best Effort to Keep it Real 

Lee-Anne Poole

Here’s a story about how even when things don’t quite work out, a lot of good can come of powerful intent.

Lee-Anne Poole used to be the event coordinator for Halifax Pride and she worked for filmmaker Thom Fitzgerald as a festival producer and in administrative postions. In theatre she’s studied and taught at Neptune Theatre school, she’s written and produced her own plays, including And I Would Dance and Splinter at the Fringe Festival.

From April 2008 through to last month, Lee-Anne Poole ran the Bus Stop Theatre.

One of her first apartments in Halifax was in the building on Gottingen that houses the Bus Stop. “I was intrigued with what Howard Beye, the gentleman who owns the building, was trying to do with it. I voiced to him that I really loved the space.”

She even wanted to buy the building but was thinking of that many years down the line.

“I had no means to purchase the space. I mean, I’m 23 years old,” she says, adding, “I tend to learn best by doing.”

What she did was manage a prominent north end multi-purpose arts space for a year and half, turning it into a key theatrical venue in Halifax. Halifax Pride did its Queer Theatre Festival there: “they brought amazing stuff from Buddies In Bad Times theatre in Toronto,” says Poole. DMV theatre’s The Leisure Society was another highlight and Dapopo Theatre has used it regularly. Poole also used the space to stage her own work, Thom Pain, through her company The Safety Position. “The space is really amazing,” says Poole. “I mean, yes, there were theatre shows, auditions, workshops and classes, but there were also musicians”---In the Dead of Winter festival used the Bus Stop as a venue---“that used the space, community groups….”

So she ran the Bus Stop as best she could until she could until very recently. She’d rather not comment on why she left her work there, but reports that Beye is still running the Bus Stop as a theatre and multi-purpose arts space and the building is still for sale. She says leaving it was heartbreaking.

“It was really important for me to make it feel like home for people,” says Poole. “To make people feel like they had ownership of it. The reason why I tried so hard with the Bus Stop is I think there’s a lot to be said for having stability and have a real history. I feel like it would be a great time in this city once we’ve had an independent art venue thrive and be thriving for 10 years or more, and I don’t think we’ve had that.”

She has been thinking about starting another arts space, but still has her fingers crossed for the Bus Stop. “There’s still a chance of that with the Bus Stop. Hopefully someone will give Howard the right amount of money to keep it as a theatre.”

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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