After eight years at the helm of the Bus Stop Theatre Cooperative, executive director Sébastien Labelle will depart the organization in 2024.
I feel like now it’s time for me to step back and focus on other things for myself. But it also allows somebody else to come into the organization with new energy, eyes, and perspectives to take it into its next chapter. – Sébastien Labelle
Instrumental in steering the Co-op through significant change, including purchasing and refurbishing the organization’s black box theatre on Gottingen Street, Labelle says he has not only accomplished what he set out to do when he joined the organization in 2016 and is now looking to focus on other responsibilities.
Balancing roles as an actor, performer, and father, along with his duties at both Bus Stop Theatre and the Mayworks Festival, Labelle says it became increasingly challenging, and he needed to shed some workload to maintain a healthy balance.
“It’s always been a lot to juggle,” he says. “Both the Bus Stop and Mayworks were much smaller when I started, and I took on both roles part-time. But both organizations have grown considerably over time, and I felt like I couldn’t do either justice.”
Labelle emphasized the importance of leaving the organization in a stable position. With the completion of significant renovations and the theatre’s ability to operate year-round without interruptions since the building’s purchase, he feels confident that Bus Stop Theatre is on solid footing.
“I feel like now it’s time for me to step back and focus on other things for myself,” he says. “But it also allows somebody else to come into the organization with new energy, eyes, and perspectives to take it into its next chapter.”
As the outgoing executive director, Labelle says he will remember the interactions with diverse individuals and communities within the city. He also highlighted the joy of working closely with colleagues and staff members and witnessing new waves of people discovering and benefiting from Bus Stop Theatre’s community-centric initiatives.
When asked about advice for the incoming executive director, Labelle emphasized the importance of viewing the position as more than just an administrative role. He described it as a community and cooperative stewardship position, stressing the significance of maintaining the theatre as a space serving diverse people and needs. Labelle encouraged the new leader to embrace the cooperative model and foster engagement and empowerment within the community.
“Much of the work feels like you’re being an ambassador for different communities and trying to make the space home for everyone,” he says. “It means sustaining many different relationships, but always in the spirit of the cooperative model that this space is built on.”
The organization has begun its search for a new executive director, with the job posting closing on February 5, 2024, and an expected start date of June 1. Labelle will stay part-time to provide mentorship and support for three months or as needed.
“It’s sad to see Sébastien go, of course, but it’s also exciting to set the course for the Bus Stop’s future under new direction, knowing how much potential has been made possible during Sébastien’s tenure,” says Liliona Quarmyne, the Bus Stop’s board chair.