By: Stuart Benson
Comedian and The Low Down columnist Julien Dionne is the new project manager for Theatre Wakefield’s 100 Mile Arts Network.
The network is a project started by the theatre two years ago that aims to connect local artists to local venues throughout Western Quebec, putting butts in seats and providing touring support for artists.
In light of the restrictions to social gatherings as a result of COVID-19, Theatre Wakefield is planning more digital streaming and recording options to be made available to the 100 Mile Arts Network. Andrea Rowe, board chair of Theatre Wakefield, is confident Dionne is the person to help make those plans a reality.
"He's talented. He's positive. He's a remarkable communicator. And on top of all that, he's a creative thinker and a leader," said Rowe. "I feel very confident about where we're headed with Julien leading 100 Mile Arts Network as a part of our team."
Beyond Dionne’s experience with traditional entertainment mediums, such as over the airwaves of CBC and SiriusXM radio or at comedy clubs and festivals throughout the country, his background in online production and marketing, like his daily podcast The Julien Dionne Show, is a key component to what makes him an “invaluable addition” to the project at the current moment, according to Theatre Wakefield’s press release, dated June 6.
Dionne has barely been in his position for two weeks, but he said he already has at least a few ideas for where he wants to take the network, including digital Zoom shows and the possibility of “drive-in” performances.
“People are setting up variety shows and DJ shows in literal parking lots,” Dionne explained. “At first, when I heard the idea, I was unsure about having people honk instead of applaud, but I have friends who participated in some and they were a great success.”
Dionne said he is excited to grow the network and help local artists make a living without having to travel as much.
“[Digital] is a component of the network that hadn't been developed yet, and this is an area of expertise of mine,” Dionne said.
If you would like to learn more about the 100 Mile Arts Network or would like to join, you can visit their website at 100milearts.net.