by Angus MacCaull

It was standing room only on a Tuesday in March at the 160-seat Grace Jollymore Joyce Arts Center. Bold colors and bright voices filled the stage. Who could tell it was midweek in the dead of winter in rural Nova Scotia? Tatamagouche Elementary School was staging a rousing production of Annie, the musical. “Which one is your daughter?” I asked Tara Heitkemper, one of our brokers from the area. “Pepper,” she said. She pointed to the tallest girl on stage.

The new $1.8-million Arts Center in Tatamagouche, which opened last June, is rounding out its first year of programming. The Arts Center is the third phase of a development plan at Creamery Square over ten years in the making. It is a surprising project for a town of 2000 people. But their vision is clear, to “enhance the character and cultural resources of the village for area residents [and] create a critical mass of heritage and commercial venues that will be an attraction for visitors, particularly summer visitors and seasonal residents.”

I sat several rows from the stage with Tara, her eldest daughter, her mother, and her mother-in-law. We all noticed when “Pepper”—or Jenna as she’s known offstage—came out in the next scene. She’d made an elaborate costume change and was now dressed as an usher. She looked directly at her family in the audience to make sure that they were watching.

I wonder how much Jenna appreciates the key part that her mom plays in making the new Arts Center the wonderful space that it is. All I can remember about my dad’s job from when I was Jenna’s age is that he worked in an office. Do the children of insurance professionals really understand their parents’ role in the community?

Inspired residents came up with the idea for an Arts Center. Governments and families raised the funds. Architects drew up the blueprints. Accountants drew up the budgets. Construction workers and electricians and plumbers worked with wood and wire and pipes. Lighting and sound technicians rigged the stage. Businesses donated money to buy seats. Art directors and teachers planned performances with actors and musicians and local students. And an insurance broker, Tara, organized a promise to fix any accidents along the way and to rebuild the Center in the event of a disaster.

At AA Munro, our brokers like Tara are committed to being service-oriented and ethical as we protect the material well-being of Atlantic Canadians. And we call the model of our business “community based”. But in an area like Nova Scotia, where some communities are growing while others are literally disappearing, it seems that it may be fair to say that we are not just community based—insurance brokers are one of the many professional roles that are indeed community defining.


Gathered For A Story at Grace Jollymore Joyce Arts Center
Gathered For A Story at Grace Jollymore Joyce Arts Center