Permanent Staff

Chris O'Neill

Chris O'Neill

Executive Director / Co-Founder

I am an actor and playwright and I  co-founded Two Planks and a Passion Theatre with Ken Schwartz in 1992, developing it with the board from a small two person operation to a national touring company. I have acted in many productions including national tours, and written four plays with Ken Schwartz, since 1992. Selected Two Planks: Schoolhouse, Macbeth, Nothing Less, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Liberation Days, The Tempest and Turn of the Screw, The Miracle Man and Dustbowl Joan, 937, As You Like It and The Iliad, Lysistrata, Beowulf, The Crucible, JeromeOur Town, and The Odyssey.

​In 2000, I turned my attention to making the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, and have helped shepherd it from a cattle farm to an international arts centre. I teach acting and improvisation and in various artist programs and have developed arts programs and outreach for schools, galleries and communities such as recently arrived refugee families. I was the artistic co-director of the National Artist Program of the 2011 Canada Games. Awards:  The Queen’s Diamond and Golden  Jubilee Medals for contribution to  community and Canada, and the Valley Arts Award, Merritt Award for Best Ensemble for Schoolhouse (2022).

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Ken Schwartz

Ken Schwartz

Artistic DIrector (Two Planks) - Co-Founder

I co-founded Two Planks and a Passion Theatre in 1992 after graduating from the National Theatre School of Canada in both Technical-Production and Directing and doing a year of apprenticeships with theatres in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. I have directed over forty productions for Two Planks and a Passion including The Odyssey, Our Town, Rockbound, As You Like It, Dustbowl Joan, and The Tempest. Recently I directed the critically-acclaimed Willpower Theatre production of Macbeth in Halifax. I participated in the Stratford Festival’s Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Text in 2010 and 2013 where I won the Elliot Hayes Award (Guthries) in 2013. I have also developed a  program of theatrical outreach which I have used to work with marginalised communities and to assist with social problems in rural communities and schools.  I teach many of the theatre and writing programs at Ross Creek, including Shakespeare workshops and the writing academy.  

Awards: three Merritt awards for Outstanding Director (09,10,16) and four for Outstanding Production (08,09,10,16). The Established Artist Recognition Award from the Province of Nova Scotia (08), and the Queen’s Golden (02) and Diamond (12) Jubilee Medals. Also nominated for Merritt awards for Outstanding Director (08, 13, 14 (twice), 15,) and Playwright (05,14,15,16). Ken was a finalist for the Nova Scotia Masterworks Award (as director) in 2010 for Rockbound.

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Janette Hubka

Janette Hubka

Managing Director

In June of 2021, I packed my family up and moved cross country to a farm just outside of Wolfville. After years of city living, I’m thrilled to return to a rural lifestyle; it’s an opportunity to invest time, attention, and care into everything I do.

I’m super excited to join the Ross Creek team, and contribute to a thriving arts community, where it’s possible to combine my passion for the arts and for nature. I can’t wait to see how I can help Ross Creek grow and thrive. My formal training is in archaeology, but I have a numbers-geek side too, that quickly lead me into operational management for several organizations over the years – I still love numbers and a detailed gantt chart! I have worked in Museums, Galleries, Hospitality, and Education and even ran a small urban CSA … and that’s what’s brought me here, to you.

I’m also on the lookout for the best gin cocktail in Nova Scotia; can you help me find it?

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Ian Funke-McKay

Ian Funke-McKay

Program Director

I am a visual artist based here in Nova Scotia. My practice involves painting, sculpture, digital fabrications, and virtual realms. With a background in alternative learning and education (unschooling), I graduated from NSCAD University with a BFA in 2014. 

Ross Creek has played an absolutely pivotal role in creating space for me to grow both as an artist and individual. Being involved with the camps since 2003, I have participated in the youth-leadership programs and since 2013 I have facilitated a number of the summer and march-break workshops. Now I am humbled and completely enthused that I have the chance to direct my energy towards growing our community and ideas together, as Arts Programming Director. 

Recently I’ve been involved in a number of curatorial projects, residencies, and programs, both close to home and further afield. I am currently preparing an exhibition of my works ‘Serpentine Signs’ for the Confederation Centre, in Charlottetown PEI. Last year I was a Media Arts Scholar at CFAT (Centre for Art Tapes), where I looked to the format of medieval display and how it could be translated to newer technologies and contemporary exhibition. Local and international residencies include the Visual + Digital Arts program at The Banff Centre (2018), The Vermont Studio Center (2017), and the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, NY (2014).

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Jennifer Manuel

Jennifer Manuel

Director of Development

I am so happy to have found a home here at Ross Creek and I’m excited to take on this role and see what I can contribute to the Centre and the community! I feel lucky to be a part of an organization that will stretch my imagination while supporting the arts and growing in new ways. I’ve always been a giver and a helper and I value my personal and professional relationships beyond measure.

I became a mom in 2015 and now have two boys who I hope will love camp! My oldest attended his first camp ever at Ross Creek this past March and he’s also returning this summer for even more camp fun. The entire experience sparked my curiosity of the organization and I fell in love with the magic of it all.

My favourite crossroads are those of arts and science, and I nurture that with my side hustle, a small business making upcycled clothing for children. I also have an Environmental Science degree from Acadia University (’09) and two years of Arts College where I studied everything from fine arts to design.

I love meeting new people and I hope you’ll reach out and get in touch!

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Jolee Smith

Jolee Smith

Director of Marketing and Communications

After a decade of life in Halifax, I’m excited to relocate to the North Mountain, just a stone’s throw away from the magnificent Bay of Fundy and the pastoral Annapolis Valley.

I recently completed my Master of Arts in Art History at Concordia University. My thesis focused on artists who have made work in response to the intertidal zones of Nova Scotia. For several years, I was involved with the White Rabbit Artist Residency and Festival as a participant, artist, and organiser. The project solidified my love for rural arts initiatives, land-based art practices, trees, and bees.

Tending a woodstove is my newest pastime. Otherwise, I enjoy leisurely hikes, creative writing, wiggling to electronic music, and learning about how to grow and eat plants. Soon, I hope to set up a studio and revive my love for silversmithing and jewellery design.

Being immersed in creative environments makes me happy, so naturally, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to bring my passion for the arts to Ross Creek. I’ll be the person behind the screen, making social media posts and sending you newsletters. Don’t be shy about reaching out!

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Ted Morris

Ted Morris

Environmental Property Manager and Eco-Educator

Hi! I’m an admirer of people and the earth, which is why I’m so honoured and privileged to have this position with Ross Creek. I love gardening, the outdoors, and playing music. I grew up in Ottawa and moved to the Annapolis Valley for my undergrad at Acadia, which is in Community Development with Environmental and Sustainability Studies (‘21). It was at Acadia that I fell in love with working outdoors with Nova Scotia’s native ecosystem. 

I worked as a Conservation Horticulturist with the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens for two seasons and got to connect with the plants from our native Acadian Forest Region. I’m especially passionate about these plants because the forest region is endangered. I work to protect these plants so they can continue to nourish us and all other beings in the region. 

When I’m not at Ross Creek, I’ll be hiking on a trail, riding my bike, or playing my drums and guitar!

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Lindsey Butler

Lindsey Butler

Centre Chef

I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to have the chef role here at Ross Creek! I’m excited to take on the role and see what creative comes from here. Born and raised here in the valley,  I’m a mother of three wonderful children.  I graduated from the culinary program at KingsTec In 2017. After school, I got to cook or prep at  many events including Devour, Sip and Savour, Farmer’s Markets and Catering.  I love exploring different aspects of food from butchering to fine dining and I enjoy bring people and families together with delicious, local food that is grown here in our community.

 

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