“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
North Bay’s Capitol Centre is the Gateway City’s home of the performing arts and has been since the end of the 1920s.
The building's beginnings got off to a rough start though when Sturgeon Falls businessman Louis Rosenbaum bought the property at 150 Main Street to construct a theatre but went bankrupt during the construction. The interests were sold to the Famous Players of Canada Corporation which opened the doors to what was called the Capitol Theatre on June 1st, 1929.
Now designated as a Heritage Site by the City of North Bay, this theatre still stands as a venue for patrons from North Bay and the surrounding areas to take in live theatre, concerts, movies and more.
Putting together what takes place within the walls of the Capitol Centre from year to year is a massive task that is all handled under the guidance of Dan Misturada - Director of Programming and Events at Capitol Centre.
Misturada has been with the Capitol Centre since 2019 and brought with him a wealth of industry experience.
“I’ve been in the industry for about 20 years. I started out as an usher part-time at the Mirvish Theatre in Toronto when I was going to York University. I moved my way up to House Manager which oversees the day-to-day safety of guests, and the food and beverage services,” he says.
“I moved over to Roy Thompson and Massey Hall for eight years. Once I got married and had kids, we ended up moving to Georgetown and I took a job at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, just before coming up here.”
Misturada says he got interested in the performing arts in high school with different productions. He started by helping out on the lighting crew and then performing on stage and got more involved in the community theatre side.
“I met someone who said that they worked for Mirvish, and they were looking for ushers and I thought that would be great. I ended up working there way more than I initially thought I would, mostly because I loved the atmosphere and each day was different.”
Misturada says that hasn’t changed in any role he’s been in.
“When people ask ‘what’s your favourite part about working at the Capitol Centre’ it’s that every day is different. You’re not going into an office and doing the same thing every day. For people who are creative thinkers or people who like to be busy or like different challenges, this is really where you get a chance to shine and make an impact in the community as well,” he says.
Misturada says there are so many different ways you can get a career in this industry as well.
“Some people take the education route, pursuing arts administration or a similar program. You can also get involved at the grassroots level and volunteer at your community theatre. We have full-time staff who started as summer students who showed that they were engaged and wanted to do more and moved into part-time roles and are now here full-time. There are opportunities for growth even if you don’t have an educational background. There is no glass ceiling in this industry as long as you’re willing to expand on your skill set and show that you want to learn and do more, the sky is the limit.”
One of the roles Misturada has had over the years is ensuring the performers' technical riders are met. An artist rider is an outlined criteria that has to be met by the promoter or event venue to make sure the artist is properly provided for. There are some famous notoriously specific riders for artists over the years, such as Van Halen asking for a bowl of M & M’s in their dressing room, with all the brown coated candies removed from the bowl.
Misturada says he’s never encountered a rider that was over the top and demanding, but there was one artist’s rider that really stood out to him.
“Comedian Brent Butt was performing at our event centre in Burlington, and he didn’t have very much on his rider, but he loves Hawkins Cheezies. Up here, those are easy to find, down there, not so much. I went to about four different places, couldn’t find them, and ended up ordering them online. He wasn’t demanding about it, but you just want to make sure that the artist has what they are asking for.
"Rick Mercer had the simplest rider. He asked for a ham and cheese sandwich and a bottle of water. That’s it! I asked if there was a specific bread, or type of cheese, or type of ham he wanted, and he was really simple about it saying, ‘white bread with a kraft singles slice is good for me.’”
Bringing in acts such as Brent Butt and Rick Mercer is part of the job for Misturada who has to gauge what he thinks will be a successful show to sell to the community.
“The needs of the community are very different between here and Toronto and you want to make sure you are programming for that community,” saysMisturada.
“You’re looking at the demographics in terms of cultural backgrounds, economic climate, the disposable income of families in your community. You’re also looking at the population size and total catchment area for events that would happen at the Capitol Centre. Our catchment area goes out into the Nipissing region and that has a total population of about 120,000 people who are possible patrons of the Capitol Centre. In a place like Toronto, you have multiple venues that specialize in different things. In North Bay, we have one main venue, with some smaller groups that do different things and do them well, but we are the home for arts and entertainment at the Capitol Centre and we try to make sure that we touch all the different genres and areas that people are looking for.”
Misturada says by comparison at Mirvish the only thing they run is big musical theatre productions that get a long 6-8 week run, sometimes even longer. Misturada says you don’t have that kind of lee-way with a smaller demographic to cater towards.
“We bring in one show for one performance. If it’s popular and it sells out quickly, we’ll look at adding a second one. But we aren’t looking to have a long-term show here because we don’t have the population size and we have to gauge how many times people can afford to come here for the same type of show in any given season. We have to be conscious about the balance there and we want to make sure that we are providing that variety.”
Misturada says some of the staple shows consist of classic rock acts.
“North Bay is a very good, classic rock town. The music from the 1970s and ‘80s will bring them out in droves. But since the pandemic and the change in the economic climate, the cost of living has changed and so instead of coming out to six or seven shows, those patrons are now choosing two or three shows that they really want to see. So, doing six to seven classic rock options doesn’t really work anymore, so we try to narrow that down,” he says.
“We have added theatre, circus acts, dance, and different types of performances to appeal to our francophone community and our indigenous community. We want to be that hub and we are making strides to be more inclusive and to engage the community in different ways.”
Misturada says that means being proactive about how they approach community partnerships.
“It is extremely crucial to be involved in your community. We have an ‘Arts for All’ program where we partner with different service organizations in the community (such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters) and we offer them complimentary tickets so that people who normally wouldn’t be able to come out to shows, can come out. It also goes towards providing different types of opportunities such as our Art Gallery, free workshops and lessons. It allows us to lower the ticket price on a lot of our shows so that we can make things more affordable for everyone.”
Misturada says as a not-for-profit organization they rely on fundraising and different grants to make some of those programming options possible.
He adds, “Our sponsors are huge. Redpath who sponsors our box office. Gateway Casinos are season sponsors. All that goes towards helping to bring the costs down on delivering these programs to people.”
He adds they are always thinking about how to keep the youth engaged with their community arts and entertainment centre.
“Some people's fondest memories are performing in Dreamcoat Fantasy Theatre productions on our stage, or walking across the stage for their graduation ceremonies and it really does stick out as a core memory that this place is important to them. We know that this is a long game, and these kids are our future audiences and studies have shown that if you introduce theatre, music and the arts to people when they are young, that instills in them the importance of the arts.”
Misturada says he’s enjoying his time in his role at the Capitol Centre and adds it’s an added benefit to be able to provide jobs to others in the community.
“We have 16 full-time and another 15-20 part-time staff who help out throughout the year, whether that’s our technical services or our custodial staff, bartenders, box office attendants. Since the pandemic, we have been one of the few venues that was able to hold on to our staff and we have increased the number of staff because we are increasing the amount of programming and engagement opportunities within the community.”
If you have a story idea for “Jobs of the Future” send Matt an email at [email protected]