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It Starts With an Idea Written on a Napkin...

What happens when an idea intersects with passion

This was originally a Linkedin post that received thousands of views.

It’s been over 20 years now since my good friend and co-founder Ken Wright (who I miss dearly) and I had this brainy idea to start a professional theatre company. As members of a strategic tourism group, we volunteered to try and attract a professional theatre company willing to branch out to our city. There were no takers and we could have stopped there and moved on to other tourism ideas. But over a cup of coffee in a local diner Ken and I chatted about what a professional theatre could do for the city; the much needed culture and entertainment, increasing tourism, helping to revitalize the downtown core, the economic spin-off etc....and so much more.

That’s when I said ‘You know, I do know a few people in the entertainment and theatre industry…’ 

And by the end of our coffee date we became partners with the sheer audacity to create a theatre company ourselves and maybe one day have a theatre built in the picturesque downtown core of Galt, Cambridge situated on the Grand River. 

And on a napkin we wrote ‘Theatre Cambridge on the Grand’. 

Launching on a wing and a prayer, the efforts of those early days were nothing short of herculean. We rented a theatre, knocked on corporate and government doors for funding and sponsorship; built a team from the ground up of Artistic Directors, hired staff, Board of Directors, and a slew of volunteers not to mention enlisting our families to help. Ken and I worked endlessly for nothing other than the love of theatre and the conviction to bring a vision to reality. With both our sales and marketing backgrounds, we spent our time pitching and promoting and getting as much buy-in as we could. We’d take runs to Costco to stock our concessions. I’d work all day at my full time job and then head to the theatre every night personally welcoming and thanking our patrons, not to mention being the bartenders during intermission. 

And we caused a ruckus...and sold out. 

It was those early ground breaking efforts generating evidence of viability that led to the development of a $14 million dollar theatre in 2013 (operated by Drayton Ent.) that now stands prominently in the downtown core. And yes on the Grand on Grand Ave. And while I have had no stake or involvement in a very long time, I often reflect on how it all got started and how much our unwavering belief was what fuelled our ability to move mountains. 

I think of every start-up, every product, every story or script, every song, every invention that's born from someone's imagination and inspiration. A seed of an idea hand written and scratched out on a diner’s napkin like ours. I think about all the idea-makers, the creators, the people with the resolve to persevere, to be ‘all in’ and burn the midnight oil, and take a bold chance with a willingness to publicly fail, to bring it all to light, and to make something great happen...

To napkins and leaps of faith.


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