History of the Osprey Arts Centre:
In the spring of 2001 David Huddleston approached members of the arts community and the Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club with the idea of developing an unused building in the Muir Cox Shipyard owned by the Town of Shelburne on the Waterfront in Shelburne. The building was referred to as The Dorothy and Gail Building after the last ship built in it. After it sat idle for some years, the filming of The Scarlet Letter led to renovations in the early 1990s. The commodore and two board members of the Yacht Club and several members of the arts community ( Holly Renaud, president of Schooner Players Theatre Group, Susan Hoover, co-founder of the Shelburne County Arts Council and long time theatre activist in Shelburne, Peter Oliver, long time theatre director and head of Basement Theatre Group, Faith Guay, community activist) under the leadership of David Huddleston, began planning and designing the renovation This group of community activists applied for an ACOA grant for the renovation for $500,000, as well as an HRDC grant for $65,000 for workers to do the renovation.
Having received these grants, as well as $100,000 from SHYC for a 30 year lease from the Town for their part of the building, the group succeeded in raising another $250,000 from generous individual and corporate donors. Construction of Phase One began in July of 2002 and was completed about a year later. The Osprey Arts Centre Association was formed in November of 2002 to develop an Arts Centre in the now renamed Osprey (named for a famous sailing ship built in Shelburne in the 19th Century). All the arts activists on the planning committee joined the new board of directors under the leadership of Susan Hoover, with Holly Renaud as vice chair. Other members of the arts and business community of Shelburne were recruited as well as one member from SHYC to act as liaison.
SHYC and the Osprey Arts Centre separated in 2003 and each organization has operated since then with a separate lease from the Town of Shelburne, each with its own board of directors. The Osprey Arts Centre opened May 10, 2003 and has operated full time since that date. For the first nine years, Susan Hoover served as a volunteer, then formally as Artistic Director and Holly Renaud later became Chair of the Board. Local musician Mike Elliott who served as a board member for many years helped organize and performed in the first live event held in the theatre and went on to organize the annual Mike Elliott’s Kitchen Party for ten years – many of them sell-outs – as fundraisers for the Osprey. As the Director of Basement Theatre, Peter Oliver was able to present many large and memorable theatrical productions at the Osprey in the early years, including the first play ever presented in the new theatre.
Completed to working order, the Osprey Arts Centre entered Phase Two, the completion phase, when it hired Darcy Rhyno as Manager in 2006. He led a drive to raise another $300,000 to complete the construction and to fully equip the space as a working theatre, complete with soft theatre seating. He continues in that position. With the assistance of ACOA, Canadian Heritage and Service Canada as well as the generosity of local contributors, the facility was finished in 2007. Susan Hoover retired as Artistic Director in 2012 and for the next three years took on the role of Dance Coordinator. The Osprey hired Alex Buchanan as the new Artistic Director. As the owner/operator of HarbourTone Studios in Shelburne, he was able to call on his connections to the local and regional music community to the benefit of Osprey audiences.
Over the next several years with Alex Buchanan as the Osprey Art Centre’s Executive Director performances were constant. Using his connections at the HarbourTone Studios as previously stated, he was host to some of the most popular shows at the Osprey Arts Centre. Unfortunately on May 19th, 2019 tragedy struck. In the kitchen at the Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club nextdoor, a fire broke out. It set the kitchen ablaze and due to air quality issues and minor smoke damage the building was shut down in its entirety until the renovations were complete. However, this didn’t stop the Osprey Art Centre’s employees and volunteers from continuing to show performances elsewhere in Shelburne County. Throughout the next 10 months, the Osprey Arts Centre had many performances at places such as the Trinity United Church, the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre, the Jordan Falls 100F Hall, the Barrington Lions Hall, and the Lower Ohio Hall.
After 7 years of different musical performances, comedy shows, and art galleries, Alex Buchanan, our Executive Director, decided to move on to greener pastures. That is when the Musician, Manitoba Hal (Hal Brolund), stepped up to the plate and became the Executive Director of the Osprey Arts Centre in December of 2019. When he came in as Executive Director, the Osprey Arts Centre was still closed from the fire. Eventually, Hal and his team had a big re-opening ceremony for the Osprey Arts Centre. This was on February 29th, 2020. Less than 1 month later, chaos ensued. The COVID-19 Pandemic came in and shut down every business in the country, including the Osprey Arts Centre. After 10 months of out-of-house performances, the Osprey was back to being closed, except this time, there were no performances at all.
Hal Brolund resigned from his position in the Summer of 2021. He did what he could to put on performances, but due to the immovable wall that was COVID-19, he couldn’t do as much as he had hoped to do. In August of 2021, Marja Himmelman was hired to be the Executive Director of the Osprey Arts Centre. Over the past two years she has put on art galleries and performances such as, the Ancient River Festival, Terra Spencer, Daniel James MacFadyen, the Catch 22 Comedy Club, and so much more! Marja strives to continue and improve upon the quality performances shown here at the Osprey Arts Centre, so we hope to see you here!
The Mandate of the Osprey starts with the responsibility to provide a year-round multipurpose performing arts centre with the highest artistic standards for Shelburne County. The outreach to youth is one of the highest priorities of the Osprey. Young people serve as board members. They help the Osprey work with the schools and produce youth programming like summer youth camps and youth produced shows. Further, the Association encourages and facilitates the use of the Centre for all local communities, providing training and sponsoring artistic presentations by local, regional, national and international artists across the performing arts disciplines. To do all of the above, the Association commits itself to maintaining financial stability.