Bruce Halliday’s career in the performing arts began with a broken camera.
Growing up working in his father’s camera store, Halliday, who hails from Duncan, had dreams of becoming a photojournalist. He proceeded to enroll in a photojournalism course, but after his camera was damaged in a flash flood he had to pull out. Instead, he took a course in stage lighting.
“The closest thing to photography is, of course, lighting, because that’s what photography is all about,” Halliday said. “And so I took the stage lighting course and it struck me right away as something that I wanted to do. I certainly would never have guessed that it would lead to a 40-plus-year career.”
That career led to Halliday working in many capacities in the performing arts, including as a lighting designer, production manager and technical director. He was part of the technical team that helped reopen the Belfry Theatre in Victoria after renovations were made in 1990, and as technical director he oversaw the opening of the Port Theatre in 1998.
On Nov. 16, the Port Theatre announced that after 23 years with the theatre, including 15 as general manager, Halliday is retiring. In the release, board president Brian Clemens said Halliday will be “greatly missed.”
“It’s of course bittersweet,” Halliday said. “It’s been a long career and I’ve been very fortunate.”
Halliday said he’s proud of the reputation he helped build for the Port Theatre, which has allowed it to attract touring acts from around the world. He said it’s an effort that takes time and precision and quality work every day.
“I think over the years as a team we’ve made great use of this amazing facility and done work that even the founding members might not have dreamed we could do,” he said.
Halliday’s advice for his successor is to pay particular attention to community engagement and stay involved with the local community at every opportunity. He said the performing arts is a “very human” business and while “it might sound a little trite,” the highlight of his career is all the people he got to meet and work with along the way.
“It is all about relationships and it’s true right from workers up to agents and it’s between performers and the audience,” he said. “It really is about people as much as any industry out there and that’s what’s made a difference to me and that’s what kept my drive up all these years.”
Halliday will stay on during the leadership transition and said his successor may be named in the next four to six months.