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.

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



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. 

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

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


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.


Kevin Colford
Owner and General Manager

Ken Heaton
Technical Director

Diana MacKinnon-Furlong
Costume Co-Ordinator

Mary-Jean Doyle
Company Manager

Donnie Antle
Volunteer Co-Ordinator

Ali MacDougall
Box Office Director


Wesley J. Colford
Artistic Director

Hilary Scott
Assistant Artistic Director

Tristan Bartlett
Props Master

Thomas Colford
Director of Dance Programming

Franklin McKibbon
Volunteer Fundraising Co-Ordinator

Christopher Walzak
Resident Photographer