Stage Door News

St. Catharines: FirstOntario PAC celebrates its fifth anniversary with in-person and virtual programming

Thursday, October 29, 2020

In November of 2015, the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) first opened its doors. Over the last 5 years, the PAC has brought entertaining, inclusive and engaging programming by incredible local, national and international artists. It’s also been the home for many local arts organizations. The PAC has hosted special events that welcomed the community to this cultural hub in downtown St. Catharines. It is in this spirit that the PAC team is thrilled to announce our special, eclectic fall program combining in-person and virtual concerts and events.

Even before opening, it was St. Catharines’ own Ron Sexsmith who performed at the groundbreaking ceremony. To commemorate this five-year milestone, the PAC welcomes him back for a very special homecoming concert with members of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra on Sat 5 Dec in Partridge Hall. A limited number of live show+dinner packages, along with virtual experiences are available for purchase. Tickets include a link to an exclusive livestream concert plus a special curated picnic basket packed full of Niagara wines, craft beers, charcuterie platter and yummy treats.

Sara Palmieri, PAC Programming & Marketing Manager, states, “Our schedule features community engaged programming, offerings from our celebrated arts partners, programming partnerships with Brock University and many community organizations. There truly is something for everyone – entertaining, inclusive, accessible and most of all, SAFE.”

The Next Generation Leahy family will bring their family bubble to perform for Niagara family bubbles with a run of 8 performances 11-13 Dec in Partridge Hall. Fluffly Soufflé will bring their hilarious Drag Queen Music Bingo to Robertson Theatre on 20-21 Nov. Renowned, contemporary Indigenous cellist, Cris Derksen will perform an original soundscape in Robertson Theatre supported by beautiful projections from local artist and filmmaker, Adam CK Vollick on 26-27 Nov. Limited, physically distanced tickets go on sale for these events on Fri 30 Oct at 10am through the PAC’s website. 

The FirstOntario PAC has a longtime partnership with Brock University and continues to strengthen our programmatic relationship with the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Dramatic Arts Department though a weekend of virtual events exploring theatre in the age of climate change 13-15 Nov. The weekend will include the sharing of five commissioned performances meant to inspire conversation and critical thought, as well as a livestreamed performance of Broadleaf Theatre’s award-winning production, The Chemical Valley Project, co-created by Kevin Matthew Wong and Julia Howman. The Chemical Valley Project will be livestreamed from Robertson Theatre on 13-14 Nov Livestream links are pay-what-you-can and are available through the PAC’s website.

“We are your home for the arts in St. Catharines and the greater Niagara region. After a period of solitude, many of us are craving an opportunity to safely leave our homes, and share experiences together. We hope that you will join us in whatever way you're most comfortable. The Arts still Live Here,” remarked PAC Executive Director, Colleen A. Smith.

The FirstOntario PAC is committed to the local arts community and organizations, many who have called the PAC home for the last five years. These resilient organizations are offering in-person and virtual programming and have been using the PAC for recording virtual projects. Programming for the fall includes offerings from Carousel Players, The Gallery Players of Niagara, The Foster Festival, Chorus Niagara, Chorus Niagara Children’s Choir, Yellow Door Theatre, with more being added in the coming weeks.

The PAC will also continue FREE virtual community events over the coming months, including an evening with award winning author and storyteller Ivan Coyote (5 Nov) in partnership with Creative Writing at Brock University; Brock University Department of Music  Music@Noon virtual recital series (Tuesdays, 17 Nov-8 Dec); a panel discussion with Niagara Poverty Reduction Network and United Way Niagara in support of National Housing Day and in support of the virtual film offering of PUSH (22 Nov); Positive Living Niagara – AIDS awareness week launch (23 Nov), Local Reflections on Racism – The intersection of art, activism, and education (29 Oct) and Racism in Sport (26 Nov) in partnership with the Folk Arts Multicultural Centre and the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association; and, Navigating the Waters of Indigenous Art, a free online workshop series throughout November with artists Brian Kon, Jill Lunn and Clayton Samuel King.

Visit for detailed event information. 

Safety of our community, artists and staff are of the utmost importance. We have detailed health and safety protocols and procedures listed on our website outlining measures to keep you safe during onsite events.  We will have additional staff and volunteers onsite and available to assist with directions, answer your questions, and make this new process as smooth and as safe as possible for everyone.

Our dedicated staff are here to assist you with any questions you may have. The best way to reach us is via email at or If you need to speak to someone directly, please leave a detailed message on our Box Office phone line at 905-688-0722 and your call will be responded to within 5 business days.