RuBarb Productions Inc. makes it official

Nathan Liewicki
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Doherty, Higgins among guests at RuBarb's grand opening

You couldn't wipe the smile off Evie Koop Sawatzky's face if you tried.

Left to right, RuBarb Productions Inc. President Glenn Hagel, Maeghan Dubois of K+S Potash, Mayor Deb Higgins, Saskatchewan Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport Kevin Doherty, artsVest Program Manager Colleen Ostoforoff and RuBarb Artistic Director Evie Koop Sawatzky participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony that officially opened RuBarb Productions' office and rehearsal space.

You couldn't wipe the smile off Evie Koop Sawatzky's face if you tried.

The artistic director for RuBarb Productions Inc. was glowing Monday at the official grand opening of RuBarb’s office and rehearsal space.

“It's kind of surreal. I knew that this day would come for quite some time,” said Sawatzky. “We've worked really hard, but at some point you realize there has to be a growth and there has to be a giving away and a sharing of the dream that you have.”

Born in 2006 as RuBarb Productions, the theatre company became a professional company in 2013 under the new name of RuBarb Productions Inc.

“The support from the province, the public and the private sectors has been overwhelming,” said Sawatzky. “With this being the first professional full year for RuBarb, I have no idea what's coming, but this bodes well for the future, so we are very excited.”

Kevin Doherty, Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport and Mayor Deb Higgins were among the honoured guests at RuBarb’s grand opening. Doherty said supporting a local community organization like RuBarb is critically important in Moose Jaw.

“Something like this, a professional theatrical company in the City of Moose Jaw, is something that will attract people to this community for quality of life purposes,” Doherty said.

“I can see RuBarb playing a role in our province's cultural community as we move forward.”

There are multiple ways the Saskatchewan Government has been supporting RuBarb. One is through SaskCulture’s Capacity Building Grant, with funding provided by the Saskatchewan Lotteries Fund.

RuBarb also received about $9,600 for website development and another $17,000 courtesy of artsVest Saskatchewan.

Developed to help small and mid-sized arts and cultural organizations forge relationships with the business community at a local level, Saskatchewan became the first province to invest in the artsVest program.

Since last spring artsVest Saskatchewan has partnered with RuBarb.

“The artsVest program provided opportunities to grow and strengthen the community of Moose Jaw through RuBarb Productions sponsorship campaigns by securing approximately $170,000 in total sponsorships this year alone,” said artsVest Saskatchewan program manager Colleen Ostoforoff.

One of RuBarb’s biggest corporate sponsors – K+S Potash Canada – was on hand at the ribbon cutting ceremony, and presented an oversized $42,000 cheque for RuBarb.

RuBarb President Glenn Hagel, who was joined by other staff and board members, joked that if anyone wanted to have a good laugh later in the day they could watch him try to deposit the big cheque.

But in all seriousness, Hagel discussed RuBarb’s vision and how it focuses on providing high-quality entertainment in Moose Jaw for many years to come.

“(We will) do that in a way that enriches the community, enhances a sense of cultural presence and enables us to be a leading contributor to the standards of the arts in our community, actively engaging with others in the arts,” said Hagel.

Doing so starts with providing opportunities to Saskatchewan-based performers, choreographers, directors and stage managers, plus others in the theatre industry.

“The appreciation of theatre in Moose Jaw is something that we've seen growing in support for what RuBarb has been doing and will do in the future,” said Sawatzky, who noted that as the decisions and reach of RuBarb expand, so too will her excitement.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: RuBarb Productions, Saskatchewan Minister of Parks

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