Arts Media

Arts groups say Herald boycott will continue

Supporting striking Herald workers comes with consequences, they say

Sue Leblanc, co-artistic director of Zuppa Theatre Co. speaks to reporters Monday morning.
Susan Leblanc, co-artistic director of Zuppa Theatre Co., speaks to reporters Monday morning.   John Sandham

Several members of Nova Scotia’s theatre community say they will continue to boycott the Chronicle Herald, even if it means hurting their business.

Four representatives of the community reiterated their support of striking Halifax Typographical Union (HTU) workers at a news conference Monday.

Susan Leblanc is co-artistic director of Zuppa Theatre Co. The company has been boycotting the Herald since the strike began on Jan. 29, by not granting interviews to replacement reporters or sending them news releases. They have also stopped sharing Herald articles on their website and social media.

“We do it because it is the right thing to do,” she said. “Making this decision was not difficult, but the repercussions of the decision could be.”

Due to the boycott, Leblanc said Zuppa is no longer connecting with audiences who rely on the Herald to find out about their shows.

“Those audiences are missing out on Zuppa experiences and we are missing out on playing to them and, of course, receiving their ticket revenue,” she said.

Pamela Halstead spoke on behalf of the Valley Summer Theatre in Wolfville. She said their audience members tend to rely on print media, not social media. They used to connect with their audience through reviews and advertisements published in the Herald.

As a result of the boycott, Halstead said her theatre and others have lost “tens of thousands of dollars” in revenue.

Mary Vingoe, a freelance artist, playwright and director, said the strike has “undermined our arts community yet again.”

“You go to smaller theatres, they’re not getting the audiences (and) they’re not getting the preview articles,” she said.

Her play, Refuge, was nominated for a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award earlier this year. She chose not to speak to Herald reporters about the nomination because of the strike. She believes this choice gave her play more coverage in the rest of the country than it did in Nova Scotia.

Gerry Whelan, an HTU representative, said the arts community has taken a “big hit,” just as striking Herald staff have.

From left to right, HTU secretary Claire McIlveen, president Ingrid Bulmer, and Christine Madill.
From left to right, HTU secretary Claire McIlveen, president Ingrid Bulmer and Christine Soucie Madill.   John Sandham

Claire McIlveen, secretary of the HTU, said the union filed an unfair labour practice complaint with provincial Labour Minister Kelly Regan before Monday’s news conference.

A request for comment from Herald president and CEO Mark Lever was redirected to executive vice president and COO Ian Scott. Scott could not be reached Monday afternoon.

As the strike approaches its 10th month, the Herald announced last week it would be increasing subscription rates.

McIlveen said none of the union’s 55 members would attend the upcoming Holiday Parade of Lights, which the Herald sponsors.

“There’s not a great deal of light and happiness in our membership coming up to Christmas,” she said.