Meet the Board: Kathryn MacLellan


Kathryn MacLellan | SAM Board Director

Kathryn MacLellan is an actress/figure skating choreographer/producer and Artistic Director/Founder of KAZAN CO-OP Theatre. Kathryn is an award winning film actor (ACTRA Award for Best Supporting Actress 2019), producer (Multiple Merritt Awards for KAZAN), and has received many nominations and critical acclaim for her work on stage. Kathryn has enjoyed a forty year career balancing the work on the stage while teaching her students on the ice. Starting as a competitive ice dancer, she followed that by competing in ballroom dance which led to musical theatre. The passion continued with acting and in the last decade producing contemporary plays focusing on excellent roles for women and the challenges of mid life. Kathryn and her team (with sister Janet MacLellan) also created the black box space “The Waiting Room.” This provided a venue for KAZAN and also contributed to the development and production of work by other companies and individuals from 2014 until 2019 when the building was torn down. KAZAN has developed a wide audience and respected reputation in the Halifax theatre culture.

How did you come to be connected with SAM?

Prior to joining the board, KAZAN CO-OP was a client of SAM as a local theatre company. The skills that Bruce Klinger and our bookkeeper Karen Waterfield offered were invaluable. I was then invited to join by Nancy Morgan who was an outgoing Board Member and Executive Director of Theatre Nova Scotia at the time. I was happy to serve in this organization that I believe changes the game for all artists in the business of creating art.

What has been your favourite arts/culture experience?

The past forty years have provided me with great challenges, beautiful experiences onstage, and off, touring Atlantic Canada with Meet the Navy (first pro gig) culminating in a Command performance for Queen Elizabeth at the NAC for the signing of the Canadian Constitution. Touring across country as a dancer in Neptune’s Don Messers Jubilee (BTW Bruce Klinger was the Tour Manager) working with many companies as an actor and choreographer and culminating with the founding of KAZAN CO-OP. The best though is developing friendships with many artists of all disciplines that have lasted all forty!

Kathryn MacLellan greeting patrons on opening night of Stacey and Liz at The Waiting Room. Choreographed/ produced by Kathryn MacLellan, directed by Linda Moore, costume design by Janet MacLellan. lighting design by Leigh Ann Vardy. Starring Stacey Fraser and Liz Richardson.

What is your favourite SAM memory?

As a relatively new Board member I look forward to a productive exciting year where we can meet in person and become an even stronger team. My favourite memory is sitting with Karen Waterfield and figuring out that we had a refund from our GST filing.

Why do you feel the arts are important to society?

It needs to be understood that being an artist is a business and the business of art is a serious endeavour. It is also a life of uncertainty and financial insecurity in a “gig culture”. This past 18 months during a global pandemic has pointed out to our governing bodies, the number of self employed people not only in this province, but the entire country. All forms of art provide a reflection of ourselves, a mirror that we can accept or reject. Art provides us an opportunity to be exposed to another persons expression, ones privacy, ones story. We learn, we feel ,we grow as a result and if we are all in the same room while experiencing it – there is nothing like it. A collective individual experience that to me, is an absolute necessity. Like breathing. It’s vital.

What are your hopes for SAM’s future?

I don’t think that I can say it better than our Board Chair Martine so I’ll quote her “My vision for SAM involves it playing an essential role in the reconstruction of the arts post-COVID, in providing artists with skills, know-how and resources to rebuild their practices, audiences, and regain the confidence and momentum to move forward.”

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