Kawartha Lakes' Finest Magazine

James Barker to headline concert to Benefit Academy Theatre

in The Arts by

The Academy Theatre is in serious trouble, according to a media release, and the theatre is hoping  James Barker and a cadre of special guests might save it.

As with many arts and culture organizations, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the future viability of the city’s performance hub, having left the building dark since mid-March.

With hopes of reopening slowly and with severely limited operational capacity in the spring, more than a year will have passed since closing its doors to the public. As an independent performing arts venue with no government support, the Academy Theatre’s lifeblood is in events, fundraising, and donations supported by the community.

Jeremy Drury of the Strumbellas.

Home Again is an outdoor, live benefit concert that will take place on two evenings only — Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at 7 pm — at the Lindsay Drive-In.

James Barker is confirmed to be headlining the Home Again benefit concert for both evenings and will be joined by other local artists and notables such as Darryl James, Jeremy Drury, and Jon Hembrey of The Strumbellas, Heaps (formerly The Kents), Tom Collver and Sophia Mackey, Tyler Kyte and Nick Rose (members of Dwayne Gretzky), Luis Segura (of Los Poetas), and more.

“We are so pleased that James Barker and others have decided to come Home Again to support the Academy Theatre. This benefit concert has been in the works for some time,”  says Academy Theatre Foundation chair, Mike Piggott.

“I want to acknowledge the many volunteers, our presenting sponsor Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers, and other sponsors like Frontline Safety Supplies for recognizing the cultural, economic, social, and historic significance the Academy Theatre provides to this City and surrounding area. This is only the beginning,” Piggott says in a media release, with more major initiatives at the theatre coming over the next few weeks.

“Live performance venues will be among the last businesses to reopen”, says Craig Metcalf, the Academy’s General Manager. “As a facility that relies on rental revenues for the bulk of its budget, this prolonged closure has put us in a very precarious position. More than 80 per cent of Ontario’s performance venues are expected to permanently shut down. We don’t plan on being one of them.”

The theatre is holding out hope and looking towards a brighter future that will bring the community and the performing arts ‘Home Again’ to the Academy.

The two evening concerts will also brandish video performances and messages from other big names, both locally and from across the country, all rallying in support of the Academy Theatre and the role it plays in the arts, culture, and tourism of our beautiful city.

“We wanted to find a way to give something back to a community that supports us so deeply,” says Robyn James, theatre board member and one of the concert organizers.

“What better way than rallying some of the most notable talents that have been born on the stage of the Academy Theatre and bringing them Home Again for an exceptional concert. And with the generous help and partnership of the Lindsay Drive-In Theatre, we have the opportunity to bring our community together safely by presenting the biggest event of the year in the Kawartha Lakes!”

When asked how the community could best support the Academy Theatre at this time, James Barker says to “buy a ticket. Simple. It’s the easiest way to support the theatre right now and to enjoy a great night out at the same time!”

Limited VIP ‘open-air, lawn chair’ seating will be available right in front of the stage as well as a lot of space for vehicle/carload viewing. Come in your vehicles with your ‘bubble’ and enjoy a great night out supporting a great cause. Safety protocols will be in place to enforce strict health and safety guidelines and proper social distancing of all vehicles and attendees.

Tickets will be $60 for individual VIP seating and $150 per vehicle/carload for general admission. “Don’t wait to get your tickets! There is limited capacity and this event is going to sell fast… both nights!” says Barker.

Tickets will be available for purchase exclusively through the event’s website, www.HomeAgainConcert.com. Tickets go on sale Friday, August 28th at 10 am.

Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers is the proud presenting sponsor of the Home Again benefit concert. “We are extremely excited to be sponsoring this event in support of the Academy Theatre. We challenge other law firms and businesses to rally behind Home Again to help us fundraise for the theatre and the continuing important role that the performing arts play in our community.”

More details will follow via social media updates and further media features.

If you would like more information about the Home Again Benefit Concert, please contact Craig Metcalf, General Manager of the Academy Theatre —

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