Highland Arts Theatre, or "The HAT" as it's affectionately called, is the name of a performance venue in downtown Sydney, Nova Scotia, formerly the home of St. Andrew's Church. When the church was decommissioned in 2013, local musician and businessman Kevin Colford stepped up to transform the beloved historical building into a state of the art centre for arts and culture. The venue officially re-opened in June 2014 with an original musical comedy: "The Wakowski Brothers". 

While the venue is available for rent and has hosted many of Cape Breton's finest in the fields of music and dance, it is our mandate to create a reliable, professional theatrical presence in downtown Sydney, producing quality productions with a special emphasis on Cape Breton songs and stories.

The Highland Arts Theatre Association is a non-profit organization registered under the Societies Act of Nova Scotia (3285136) and a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency (82383 3181 RR0001.)

In June 2016, the HAT became a Professional Member of Theatre Nova Scotia.

In 2018, the HAT became a member of the Sydney & Area Chamber of Commerce.



At the 2016 Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Awards, the Highland Arts Theatre was awarded the Arts & Entertainment Award, the People's Choice for Favourite Arts and Culture Experience, and Artistic Director Wesley J. Colford was awarded the Jack Yazer Young Entrepeneur of the Year. 

Recently, we were nominated for “Venue of the Year” in the 2018 Music Nova Scotia Industry Awards and “Business of the Year” in the Sydney Chamber of Commerce Excellence Awards.

Circa 1928, scanned from the St. Andrew's Church Annual Report

Circa 1928, scanned from the St. Andrew's Church Annual Report


Richard Lorway

Anna Manley

John Malcom

Kim Sadler

Linda Crockett

Vince MacLean

Jim MacLellan

Valerie MacMillan

Erika Shea



St. Andrew's United Church , started in 1910 and completed in 1911, was the third church built by the Sydney and Mira Presbyterian congregation, originating from 1852. The congregations outgrew the two previous Sydney churches, and so St. Andrew's was built to contain 1,000 people for services.

The pastor at that time, Rev. Dr. John Pringle travelled to Toronto and met with architects Curry and Sparling to develop the plans for the church. Constucted by Rhodes and Curry Company using red brick from Mira, a local brickyard, the cost was $62,945. The 3,000 pipe, pipe organ made by the famous Casavant Frères in Quebec and engraved 10 bell chimes installed at that time, are still in use today.

Architecturally, the end result was a beautiful house of worship, with impressive towers, bells chiming on Sundays and the steadfast permanence of the Gothic Revival style, rare within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.


Wesley J. Colford
Executive Director

Ali MacDougall
Box Office Manager

Kayla Cormier
Technical Director

Ken Heaton,
Head Electrics

Diana MacKinnon-Furlong
Costume Coordinator

Barb Stetter
Resident Music Director

Christopher Walzak
Resident Photographer


Hilary Scott
Assistant Artistic Director

Franklin McKibbon
Community Engagement

Kathleen O’Toole
Facility Manager

Mary-Jean Doyle
Company Manager

Ohan Vandermeer
Sound Technician

Cynthia Vokey
Resident Choreographer

Thomas L. Colford
Director of Dance Programming

The final verse of Silent Night during our first ever Christmas Eve Sing-Along Service on December 24th, 2017. Ending the year in style. Merry Christmas, Everyone. Video by Thomas L. Colford