Stories | December 8, 2020

4 charities to keep the curtain up

Impact Ambassador

Theatre nourishes the soul. Impact Ambassador, arts leader, and author Andrea Loewen shares how you can experience live shows and express your support. 

Winter is, as they say, coming.

Or perhaps it’s here: in Vancouver, it has become decidedly grey and cold and we’ve seen the North Shore mountains dusted with snow. Normally for me, this season means one thing: lots and lots of live theatre. In the last weeks and months of the year, theatres all across town are typically packed as fall productions transition into holiday fare.

Sure, these shared experiences are entertaining. They also support our spiritual and mental health. They help us connect with our humanity. The act of gathering together to share a collective storytelling experience has been around for as long as people have existed, and now we are starting to understand why.

Theatre creates belonging

Among other benefits, theatre has been shown to increase a sense of belonging and provide a collective experience of mental “flow”. As award-winning playwright Thornton Wilder said, “I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can with another the sense what it is to be a human being.”

During this isolating year of coronavirus, we need that shared experience more than ever. When public health orders allow, there is a chance to actually gather (from a safe distance) around the proverbial campfire and share in our humanity once more.

Crafting a new experience

Theatres are also offering online versions of their work. While calling it the same as seeing it live would be like saying a black bean brownie tastes just like the real thing, it is a surprisingly impactful experience.

The stark truth, however, is that any theatre offering shows right now is losing money. To be honest, theatre is always losing money. That is why most theatres are charitable organizations, receiving grants and donations to keep going. 

The costs of a COVID-19-compliant production and livestream are incredibly high. And the revenues are cut to a tiny fraction of what they might normally be.

Where you can support theatre

Individual donations are always a vital part of the equation that keeps theatres going. Now, your support can really make a difference. Here are some theatres that are currently trying to put on work and could use your support:

Presentation House Theatre: Their COVID-19 “pivot” included adding a co-operative program for artists, providing access to space and support for creating their own work. This program was on top of the company’s own producing and presenting. They are offering theatre for young audiences and adult fare through the pandemic.

Arts Club Theatre: Vancouver’s largest theatre company, the Arts Club has provided employment to artists in a variety of ways through the pandemic, including producing new and exciting one-person plays.

The Firehall Arts Centre: A warm spot in the Downtown Eastside, the Firehall produces and presents meaningful and challenging work. During the summer, they quickly adapted to share theatre outdoors in their courtyard, and now are shifting to safe indoor productions.

The Fringe Festival: Usually one of the best opportunities to cram into an alternative performance space and see an artist pour their heart out onstage, the Fringe usually offers 150+ plays over two weeks. This year, they have adapted to offer a few plays that work well with COVID-19 restrictions, spread out throughout the year.

We understand most of us don’t have the time or resources needed to make the most informed giving decisions. That’s why we have launched the #ChooseYourImpact campaign, connecting you to passionate changemakers and thought leaders—called Impact Ambassadors. Meet our Ambassadors and learn more about how you can support their causes.

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