MONTREAL, QC — The IATSE, the union representing theatre technicians, and the National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) have joined together to help secure the presentation of the 2018 edition of the Ontario Drama Festival, and its offshoots, the Atlantic and British Columbia Drama Festivals, following the withdrawal of Sears Canada as the organizations’ common main sponsor.
The IATSE will act as a sponsor for the 2018 edition and is providing assistance to find additional funders. NTS is also providing immediate financial as well as administrative support, as needed, to Wayne Fairhead, Executive Director of the Drama Festivals. This will be done in close collaboration with festival volunteers, the drama teachers involved, and local communities.
“NTS is honored to provide urgently needed assistance to the Drama Festivals that have inspired thousands of high school students to develop an appreciation for the arts. The School is already working closely with Mr. Fairhead to develop a strategy to ensure the long-term prosperity of the Ontario Drama Festival, one of Canada’s longest running cultural institutions, and its sister editions in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada,” said NTS CEO Gideon Arthurs.
Drama Festival alumni and the Canadian theatre community were stunned after learning of the loss of the funding. Many expressed their dismay, fearing the end of these beloved local Drama Festivals, which provide opportunities for thousands of high school drama students to convene every year to share ideas, attend training workshops and, most of all, create new friendships and artistic bonds.
“I am very relieved and excited to confirm today that the 2018 editions of the Drama Festivals will take place, thanks to the collaboration of the IATSE and NTS. I am also very enthusiastic to be collaborating with the National Theatre School of Canada, along with the festival volunteers, the extended community and prospective donors, to put in place a long-term vision for the festivals and its young artists,” said Wayne Fairhead, Executive Director of the Drama Festival.
“The IATSE understands the important role the Sears Drama Festival has played in the development of Canadian talent – both on stage and behind the scenes. We’re thrilled to be a part of the movement to ensure this vital theatrical training ground continues to survive and thrive,” added John M. Lewis, IATSE International Vice President and Director of Canadian Affairs.
“For so many young people passionate about theatre, the Drama Festivals are where they meet kindred spirits and develop new artistic bonds and skills, especially in areas where there is limited access to education in the arts. I participated in the Drama Festival when I was growing up in New Brunswick. The adjudicator, Ilkay Silk, became my first artistic mentor and it was through her that I got my first professional theatre opportunity. The Drama Festival is a lifeline for many young Canadian artists,” added Drama Festival alumna Alisa Palmer, who is an award-winning theatre director, playwright, dramaturge as well as the Artistic Director of the English section of NTS.
The Drama Festivals showcase secondary school theatre productions in their respective provinces and convene thousands of drama students to perform and compete in a friendly atmosphere. The Ontario Drama Festival, founded in 1946, is Canada’s oldest theatre festival. It helped launch the careers of numerous actors, directors and production professionals, including actors Margot Kidder, Rachel McAdams, Yanna McIntosh and R.H. Thomson, as well as movie director David Cronenberg.