Set The Stage Logo

Press Release | Mar 29th, 2019

St. John's, NL

Friday, March 29th, 2019

St. John’s, NL – Members of the local arts and business community, along with provincial and federal government officials, gathered at the Memorial University Signal Hill Campus today to celebrate another major milestone for the Set the Stage Capital Campaign for Theatre Newfoundland Labrador (TNL). Event emcee, the Honorable Brian Tobin, Chair of Set the Stage Campaign joined representatives of The Basil Dobbin Family Foundation to announce their generous gift of $1,000,000 as naming sponsor for the Centre for the Performing Arts in Cow Head, NL. The Basil Dobbin family has graciously chosen the Bennett family as the naming benefactor. The new center to be officially named, The Nurse Myra Bennett Centre for the Performing Arts.

“This new performing arts centre will mean new possibilities for the boundless energy that begins every new season in Cow Head. It will mean more people will enjoy the performances and it will mean greater economic stability for the company itself. From workshops to residencies, to touring and extending the reach of our year-round programs . . . it all grows! We are so thankful to have the Dobbin Family Foundation here today. A family that has strong roots in this province.” “Make no mistake, their donation will tangibly impact this area and audiences that come here from the world over. A new stage, three times larger accommodate more ambitious performances with improved sound and more lighting versatility. More of that creativity, that tangible production value, will be unleashed. A dedicated rehearsal hall will double as a small performance venue enabling more student engagement and programs in concert with schools and the Arts program at Memorial’s Grenfell Campus,” he added.

Premier Dwight Ball added, “On behalf of everyone in this province, a huge thank you to the Dobbin Family for their kind and generous support. For more than 40 years, Theatre Newfoundland Labrador has been finding important stories about our history and culture in the quaint Town of Cow Head and turning them into an entertaining snapshot of our values for tourists from all over the world to see. While the stories, the accents and the gestures are bound to be different from place to place in our beautiful province, what I’ve learned first-hand particularly over these last few years is that the values that make us who we are as a people are not so different. And that’s an important point to make here today. I very sincerely want to say thank you for seeing past the differences that can exist from place to place in our province and looking at the ties that bind us all together.”

MP Gudie Hutchings, Member of Parliament for Long Range Mountains, was also on hand for the celebration. “While Government of Canada, through Heritage Canada and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, is proud to support Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s Set the Stage campaign, I’m here today with a very large smile on my face to express our National Governments’ gratitude to the Dobbin Family for this thoughtful and generous investment in the arts, culture and heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador and of course TNL,” said Hutchings.

“What many don’t expect but 12,000 of them get to see every year, is a remarkable Theatre Festival that showcases the stories and culture that make Newfoundland and Labrador such a unique place to live. It is a huge opportunity for Canada to showcase not only our spectacular physical landscapes, but a deeper understanding of our cultural landscape, and what brings us together as Canadians. Welcome to Canada I say!” More information regarding the Set the Stage campaign can be found at 

Please direct media inquiries to:
June Perry
Pilot Communications
(709) 682-2682

Members of the Set the Stage Campaign Cabinet are:

The Honourable Brian Tobin, Chair
Gary Anstey
Paul Antle
Jim Burton
Brian Johnson
Dean MacDonald
Michelle Melendy
Barry Perry
June Perry
John Risley
Graham Watton
Anne Whelan
Derek Young

About Basil Dobbin Family Foundation

One of seven children, Basil Dobbin was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 2, 1939. In 1966, Mr. Dobbin graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering from St. Mary’s University and Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia.

An instrumental player in forming companies such as Viking Construction, Olympic Construction and Pyramid Construction, Basil Dobbin played a pivotal role in construction and real estate development throughout NL. His work on highway projects, hydroelectric dams and a wide range of commercial and residential development throughout the City of St. John’s provided him with the opportunity to visit every corner of the province and encounter Newfoundlanders and Labradorians from all regions and walks of life.

It was through this lens that Basil Dobbin saw, and indeed experienced first-hand Newfoundland and Labradors’ rich cultural heritage, stories worth telling and values that directly impacted his many businesses. The Dobbin Family Foundation was formed by Basil to create a vehicle to give back to those people and those communities that were instrumental in his own success.
While not specifically dedicated to the arts, its mission is simple: find worthy projects that impact our youth and their future in a positive way and preserve the values that make this province such a unique and wonderful place.

With growing recognition of the positive impacts that a young person’s experience in the arts has on their careers and this province, no matter which career path they eventually take, the Basil Dobbin Family Foundation is pleased to be paving another road that connects people and communities.

About Nurse Myra Bennett

Myra Bennett was Newfoundland Labrador’s “Florence Nightingale of the North”, known as “The Nurse” providing the only medical assistance along the isolated coastal stretch of the Northern Peninsula. Bennett’s medical career was legendary. Her profound impact lingers to this day on the northern coast.

Her home turned medical center was in Daniel’s Harbor; an isolated community. The nearest hospital was the Grenfell Mission of St. Anthony, located several hundred kilometers to the north. It is estimated that during Bennett’s practice she delivered five thousand newborns. She tended to all medical conditions providing critical care; travelling over 400 kilometers by foot, boat and dog sled. She continued to provide health care and medical assistance far after her official retirement in 1953.

A true matriarch of the community, Bennett raised three children, was involved in the local church, and maintained the family home and garden. Bennett was made an honorary member of the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland Labrador and later received an honorary doctorate from Memorial University. In 1974 she was appointed a member of the Order of Canada.

The play Tempting Providence by Robert Chafe is about Nurse Myra Bennett. That show has been a part of Theatre NL’s offerings since 2000 and its toured throughout the world.