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Old 01-18-2012, 10:53 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,602
Default Lightfoot is member of board for musical

A variation of the Drum! musical is set to hit the world stage and members of the local community will have an investment in its development — literally.

Brookes Diamond Productions unveiled plans Wednesday for Ka’Nata, a made-in-Nova Scotia production that follows Canada’s evolution from the First Nations’ perspective and gives “each culture its voice and its rhythm through the eventual conflicts and resolutions.”

To achieve the size and scope of the production, including a 1,200-seat touring venue that will be installed wherever the show goes, the company is looking for investors through the provincial Community Economic Development Investment Funds, which allows businesses to raise capital through the sale of shares to people within a defined community.

After months of work, the 11-member Ka’Nata advisory board received regulatory approval for the sale of shares from the Nova Scotia Securities Commission on Wednesday. Among the members of the board are performer Gordon Lightfoot, former premier John Hamm, Melanie Berry, president of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Science and Jeff Melanson, executive director of Canada’s National Ballet School.

“It was a big step for us to take, we’ve never done anything like that before,” Diamond said. “We’re realizing that Ka’Nata is going to be a community effort and our funding source for getting the development aspect of this going is in fact a community effort.”

Diamond envisions the cost of putting the travelling show on until at least 2017 — Canada’s 150th birthday — to be in the millions of dollars. He is hoping, however, that the community investment funds will eventually raise $1 million to cover the development of the show.

“It depends how much of the production we are able to get into and that is kind of a moving target,” he said. “The venue itself will be iconic, and there will nothing else that looks like it anywhere in the world, and you can’t go out and do that on a small budget.”

The idea for the Ka’Nata came several years ago when Drum! first played in Ottawa for Canada Day. It really gained traction after the group performed at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

“There we saw the outpouring of national spirit and we saw the effect Drum! had on people in terms of their appetite for the elements of it related to First Nations, and the multitude of cultures that were involved,” Diamond said. “There was definitely a sense that they felt that we were speaking to them. ..... They understood it was Nova Scotia’s story, but people say to us all the time, ‘It’s our story, too.’

“So we just knew we had to create a version of Drum! that is Canada’s story.”

The next step is to secure sponsorship agreements. Diamond said the advisory board has been in talks with a number of national creative and business leaders, including the Cirque du soleil and theatre companies in Toronto and Vancouver.

“We’re getting a positive response in our enquiries up to this point,” he said, adding that he thinks the project will be attractive to national brands.

The venue itself has not been designed but a preliminary drawing portrays it in the shape of a drum that will double as a museum-quality space for its partners in the day and a performance venue at night.

Diamond’s preference is to have it completely built by Nova Scotia companies, but he acknowledged that it is a “specialized business” and as such did not rule out employing outside expertise.

“As much of it is going to be built here as possible — all of it if we can do it that way,” he said.

The entire operation will be headquartered in Halifax, including its development, production and rehearsals. A cross-Canada audition process is about a year away.

Diamond stressed that the show will not be like its predecessor, Drum!, which is still in production.

“If you’ve seen both shows, you will know that one came from the other, but it (Ka’Nata) will have to start out to be its own show. It’s an evolution of Drum!”

A preliminary timetable calls for Ka’Nata to tour Canadian capitals and major markets from April to October in 2013 and 2014, followed by a six-week run in Dollywood.

The length of the community investment funds regulatory process, however, has pushed that timetable back, Diamond said.

Once it is up and running, the show will evolve over time to incorporate new elements “whether they’re technological or live actors and singers.”

Diamond said he expects Ka’Nata will continue on well past 2017.

“This is one of those concepts that doesn’t really have a clock ticking on it, it’ll be forever young. Our story will never grow old. It will always be somebody’s story.”
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