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Having Great Friends Makes a Difference

by on November 27, 2015

At the Fredericton Playhouse, we believe the arts enrich our lives, and our mission is to share live performance experiences with everyone in our community. But as a not-for-profit arts organization there are limits to what we can accomplish on our own. We need help in order to help others experience the magic of a live performance.

Like most other registered charities, we rely on contributions from our donors to carry out our mission and have a meaningful impact. Every year around this time we put out a call for support; we are always encouraged by the generosity of our donors, who we call the “Friends of the Fredericton Playhouse.”

As our donation base grows, so does the scope of our outreach programs. In the past year, for example, we were able to provide tickets to Playhouse performances to 439 individuals through our Arts are for Everyone initiative. We created this program with the goal of reducing 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 Fredericton.

In recent years, we have been able to offer special workshops and performances for groups like the Boys and Girls Club and local senior’s homes under our Arts are for Everyone banner. This is just one way we strive to share the arts with everyone, including those who may find it difficult to participate in performances and activities in our building.

There are many barriers that can prevent members of our community from participating in the arts, from financial concerns, to language and cultural differences, to physical or cognitive ability. We aim to address these barriers head on, and we are making progress. We’re thrilled with the level of service we’ve delivered through the Arts are for Everyone program over the past year – in fact, it’s a 14 per cent increase over our previous season. With the continued support of our donors, we’re confident that number will continue to rise to meet the ever-growing demand.

The donations we receive also play an important role in allowing the Playhouse to increase youth engagement in the arts. We believe that the magic of live performance is something that can have a lasting impact on a young viewer, and that idea is the driving force behind our School Field Trips series.

For many young people, their only exposure to the performing arts is provided through their school life, and that’s why we constantly work to expand our school programs. Last year, we received unprecedented interest in our School Field Trips from teachers and schools, and nearly 2,000 students were able to attend a school matinee at the Playhouse. With fewer and fewer resources for arts education in our school system, we feel an obligation to address this important element of a child’s learning.

For several years we have offered a transportation subsidy to help cover the cost of busses for schools that may struggle with the financial costs of bringing students to the Playhouse. This season, with the help of our donors, we are very pleased to introduce a general assistance component to cover the cost of admissions for students from schools that have a pronounced barrier to participating. These assistance programs are critical to sharing the wonder of live performance with our young people.

The support we receive from the Friends of the Fredericton Playhouse plays a crucial role in everything we do, including the professional performances in music, theatre and dance we present through our Spotlight and Kidstage Series, and the enrichment activities we provide through our Experience More! program. These activities, many of which are free or low-cost, provide the public with exciting learning experiences. Last year, more than 1,200 individuals participated in this program, which includes everything from film screenings and lectures, to dance workshops and children’s activities.

We’re always striving to make the Fredericton Playhouse an organization where everyone can feel welcome; that’s why we offer programs like Arts are for Everyone, School Field Trips and Experience More! Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Fredericton Playhouse, we’re able to more fully realize our vision of providing meaningful performing arts experiences to all members of our community.

Tim Yerxa is the Executive Director of the Fredericton Playhouse.

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