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From KSS to Ottawa
Kwalikum Secondary School graduate Nathan Medd chose a career in theatre because of his experience in the theatre program at the school, and now he’s landed a coveted management position with Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
“I have the drama school of Kwalikum Secondary School to thank for my career, that was the inciting incident,” said Medd, adding, “the place of experimentation that helped me find myself and my community.”
Medd will become the Managing Director of the National Arts Centre’s (NAC) English Theatre this June.
At KSS Medd said his drama teacher B.J. Christiansen had a big impact on him and a number of other students in the program. Medd had acting roles in many productions and also worked backstage, and said he really felt a sense of acceptance and belonging in the program.
He also performed in a number of Echo Player’s productions and traveled to perform in festivals with the Qualicum Beach theatre company.
After graduation in 1996, Medd went on to a post secondary theatre program at the University of Victoria where he decided he was more suited to producing and management.
Medd held some key positions following his graduation from the Theatre and English departments at UVic: he was house manager at the Belfry Theatre, he was development and operations manager of the Intrepid Theatre (producers of the Victoria Fringe Festival) and managed festival and theatre grants for the BC Arts Council. Medd also co-founded the Metro Studio in downtown Victoria, which remains a bustling venue today.
After success in his many theatre roles, Medd was head-hunted over to the Electric Company Theatre in Vancouver, which he helped become one of the largest touring theatre companies in Western Canada.
With that company he traveled to San Francisco and Montreal, among other destinations, and worked with exceptional artists working at a world class level, he said. His role with the company centered around getting the most out of creative ideas, he said, involving garnering resources through grant writing, and directing funds.
The biggest difference at his new position is scale, he said. Whereas the Electric Company Theatre had about a $1 million dollar annual budget, the NAC’s budget is roughly $8 million and their mandate is a national one.
The NAC opened to the public in 1969, created as a project of the federal government as part of centennial celebrations. Well known for its 61-member National Arts Centre Orchestra, as well as for work in each of its performing arts fields, the NAC is the only multidisciplinary, bilingual performing arts centre in North America, and one of the largest in the world.
A couple of Medd’s goals in his role include creating a core group of contracted actors, which will create a greater balance of resources, he said, as well as focusing on the production and premiering of original Canadian scripts.
But most of all he’ll be serving a national mandate to bring Canadian communities together, through the arts.
“I can focus on the role of theatre and art in building communities and building the nation through culture,” he said, “keeping the nation as a connected community.”
Medd said theatre has been many different things to him over the years, but today it’s about the big questions in life similar to Shakespeare’s profound line in Hamlet: To be, or not to be.
“That’s what I get to do every day, is to work in a space where everyone asks what it means to be,” said Medd, “and that is such a privilege.”