This is the first in a series of articles highlighting this year’s recipients of the City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Awards.
When Dean Chadwick was a child he would get up in front of his grandmother’s fireplace and entertain at family gatherings.
Back then he didn’t do it for the validation – he did it for the smiles. And while he’s since moved on from fireplace hearths to theatre stages, Chadwick still appreciates the impact a performance can have on an audience.
“That’s what I think led me into staying in theatre, because I knew that I could touch people’s hearts or change how they were feeling,” said Chadwick, artistic producer for Nanaimo’s Schmooze Productions theatre company.
Chadwick has been involved with theatre in Nanaimo all his life, and notes that he’s worked with every theatre group in town in some capacity. In 1999 he started Schmooze as an off-shoot off the Arts Alive summer school “out of necessity” to provide senior musical theatre programming for teenagers. That year they staged Jesus Christ Superstar at the Port Theatre and “it just kind of took off from there.”
Chadwick was also involved in the formation of the Harbour City Theatre Alliance Society, a group made up of members of the local theatre community that runs and maintains the Harbour City Theatre.
On April 18 the City of Nanaimo will honour Chadwick for his contribution to culture in his hometown with the 2019 Honour in Culture award. He said he’s “truly excited, grateful and a little bit awestruck,” to receive the award.
“I’m a fourth generation Nanaimoite and Nanaimo’s really important to me. It’s where my roots are, but it’s also where my future is…” he said. “It was really cool to be recognized for the work that we do in the community.”
The award is based on nominations, meaning that friends and supporters put Chadwick’s name forward for the honour. He said he’s seen some of those letters and that the personal connection makes the recognition all the more touching.
“You don’t usually read letters like that or see things or hear things about yourself until you’re dead, that’s when you hear about it. And I’m like, ‘OK, I’m still alive,’ so this is good,” he said.
Looking back over the last 20 years, Chadwick is modest when it comes to acknowledging his accomplishments.
“I’ve created what I wanted and it’s happening live, right now, which is really, really exciting,” he said. “That being said, nothing I’ve ever done has ever been on my own. It’s always been with a team … and we move forward as a team, so I would never even begin to suggest that this is by me alone. Not even close.”
WHAT’S ON … City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Awards ceremony takes place at the Port Theatre on April 18. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7. Tickets are free but must be reserved.