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Award-Winning Comedian Will Be ‘Marquee Presenter’ At Arts Atlantic Symposium

Nikki Payne. Image: Submitted

SAINT JOHN — A new symposium for Atlantic Canadian artists hoping to make a living in the region has announced its first major speaker.

The Arts Atlantic Symposium, organized by ArtsLink NB, announced at a press event Thursday that entertainer and fine arts student, Nikki Payne, will be one of its “marquee presenters.” Payne will share her story of taking risks in the arts world and how those risks can pay off greatly.

Taking place October 14 to 18 in Saint John, the Arts Atlantic Symposium will be a multi-day festival and conference event celebrating and examining the creativity and challenges that come with working in the arts in Atlantic Canada.

Originally from Nova Scotia, Payne is the recipient of three Canadian Comedy Awards and headlined multiple sold-out national tours. Her Comedy Inc special on CTV was one of the networks most viewed programs. She’s also appeared on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and is a regular on Much Music’s Video on Trial.

After moving to Toronto to hone her craft, she made the decision to move back to the east coast and put down new roots in Shediac. Since then, she has returned to school, studying fine arts at Mount Allison University.

“Nikki is an interesting case. She is very well-known and she definitely has a name, but at the same time she’s made a decision to move back to the east [coast] because of the merits of living here, the cost of living and things like that [and] also to go back to school and study fine arts,” said Mark Burnett, ArtsLink NB’s event coordinator.

“It really seems like a good match for what we’re trying to do to show people it is possible to come back. It is possible to make a living from the arts.”

Burnett says more keynote presenters will be presented leading up to the October event.

“We will be rolling them out as the months roll on,” he said. “But she is the first, so we’re very excited to have her.

The conference portion of the event is open to anybody who considers themselves an artist, with passes now on sale through the Imperial Theatre. The public events and art demonstrations throughout the four days will be open to the general public. Though planning is still underway, Burnett said the symposium has already generated lots of excitement from the region’s arts community.

“We’ve had plenty of artists reach out asking questions, looking for information,” he said. “We’re just glad we’re at the point now where we can start sharing that information with people and really start to hype this up.”