At the Fredericton Playhouse, we have a mission of making the performing arts accessible to everyone in our community. But as a non-profit organization, we depend on the support of our donors to share the magic of live performance through our performances and programs.
Each year around this time, we put out a call for support, and we continue to be encouraged by the overwhelming response we receive from our donors, the “Friends of the Fredericton Playhouse.” Their generous donations allow us to maintain and grow our presentation series and outreach programs.
We’re always exploring new ways to expand our existing programs and last season, as part of our existing Arts are for Everyone program, some of our donations were used to pilot a new initiative called the Intergenerational Project. We paired residents from the Shannex Parkland Fredericton retirement home with students from Theatre New Brunswick’s Theatre School, and invited them to attend a show together.
We introduced our senior and youth participants at the Playhouse during a pre-show reception, giving them the chance to chat and get to know one another. Then, they attended BOOM, a play about the music, culture and politics of the Baby Boom generation.
We were thrilled by the results, as students and seniors had many lively discussions during the intermission and following the show. Several participants exchanged contact information, and they’ve been able to form friendships as a result, making it an enriching experience for retirement home residents and theatre school students alike.
Thanks to the success of this pilot, the Inter-generational Project will continue this season. Next month, we’ll invite a group of seniors and young people to get to know each other before watching A Passage to Bollywood on the Playhouse stage. We’re able to present this program at no cost to participants, all thanks to our Friends.
Of course, this is just one example of what we’re able to achieve thanks to the generosity of our donors. Last season, we presented 37 world-class professional live performances in dance, theatre and music as part of our Spotlight and Kidstage Series. This included two special Pay-What-You-Will performances, an initiative introduced to help increase accessibility, and to encourage patrons to take a chance on new and exciting shows.
We presented five school matinee performances in 2016-17, making it possible for more than 2,600 students from the Greater Fredericton area to attend a show. Our School Field Trips program offers an assistance grant, waiving the admission fees for a number of students from schools with a pronounced barrier to participating.
The Playhouse delivered 17 Experience More! learning opportunities last year, and 500 individuals participated in these free or low-cost activities, which included workshops, talks, food and drink events, and more.
I’m also very pleased that we were able to provide 600 complimentary tickets through the Arts are for Everyone access program last season. This program aims to reduce barriers to participating in the performing arts by working in partnership with local agencies, such as the Fredericton Food Centre and the Multicultural Association of New Brunswick.
We continue to work to make the Fredericton Playhouse a place where everyone can feel welcome, which is why we offer programs like our School Field Trips series, Experience More! enrichment activities and the Arts are for Everyone access program, which includes initiatives like the Intergenerational Project. Thanks to the support of the Friends of the Fredericton Playhouse, we look forward to providing meaningful performing arts experiences to members of our community for many years to come.
Tim Yerxa is the Executive Director of the Fredericton Playhouse.