KITCHENER — Pam Patel is the new artistic director of Impact, and vows to mount a 2021 version of the theatre festival.
Patel replaces founder and outgoing artistic director, Majdi Bou-Matar, who publicly announced his resignation at the festival’s opening ceremonies on Tuesday, Sept. 24, after the opening-night play was pulled just hours before showtime.
While the start of the 2019 festival was rocky, it went on to be a success. Sales of festival passes doubled this year compared to 2017, local ticket sales were also up significantly, many shows were sold out and Impact brought 3,000 into the city core for 23 different shows over six days, and a closing night party.
And festival organizers made good on the opening-night fiasco that led to Bou-Matar’s public resignation. The play “Fears(s)” from the Tunisian National Theatre was mounted Sunday night instead to close the festival.
“This festival, which started with what felt like a crisis, ended with what felt like a victory,” Patel said Monday in an interview.
Impact, or the International Multicultural Platform for Adult Contemporary Theatre, was first held in 2009 and returned every two years since. It was the vision and creation of Bou-Matar, a veteran theatre artist from Lebanon, who also founded the MT Space, a local theatre company.
Patel has been artistic director of MT Space for a while now, and will continue in that role as well. She relishes the opportunity to be the artistic lead for both MT Space and Impact. Representatives from the Canada Council and Heritage Canada told Patel after the last show Sunday they are ready to help again, she said.
“I am going to take a little bit of down time after Impact to think about how I can restructure our organization,” said Patel.
She is taking a much-needed break before the MT Space play “Amal” goes to Montreal later this month for a festival called North South Arts and Culture.
Bou-Matar worked hard to overcome a series of challenges that dogged Impact 2019 from the time the lineup was first announced back in May.