Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Emergence: Inspiring the Next Generation of Theatre-Makers in Ontario

By Laura Philipps, 2017 Youth Advisory Committee Co-Chair

Speed Ideating
Photo by Jason Carlos
Emergence at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre on September 24 brought together over 60 artists under 30 years old to engage in round-table discussions and practical workshops about succeeding as a professional theatre artist.

It was important for us to have artists of the same generation sharing career advice specific to today’s social and economic climate. Creating leadership roles for young artists was our way of designing an event that prioritized youth voices on all sides of the conversation. For our mentors and participants alike, Emergence demonstrated that our peers are the very people who can help us achieve our goals.
It was invaluable hearing and learning from our peers, who I also realized yesterday are not only "future theatre creators" but our own cohort of artists to grow with—a big realization for me during the Open Space! - Kevin Matthew Wong, Emergence Mentor
Technical and stage management skills lab
Photo by Sophie Mercer
We know from experience that industry events can be intimidating for young people, fraught with feeling that you must ask the right question, or organically start a conversation with an admired artist. We designed Emergence to foster active connections between artists at different career stages. Our icebreaker facilitated ten conversation starters people could pick up on later. The small group practical labs had an average mentor-participant ratio of 1:5, so participants could get hands on experience and make personal connections. By the time the Open Space discussion activity came at the end, we had participants and mentors leading conversations together.
I just wanted to tip my hat to you guys for the workshop today. It was very well-organized, the workshops were mostly useful, felt super appropriate to the demographic + informative and the vibes were welcoming (which does not always happen in this industry's settings!). Thank you for it! - Sarah Katz, Emergence participant
The Youth Advisory Committee
Photo by Rachel Kennedy
We are grateful to Theatre Ontario for giving members of The Youth Advisory Committee the opportunity to gain practical experience coordinating a large-scale event. Our relationship with the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre taught us about the logistics of renting and managing a large venue. Our selection of workshops and mentors taught us how to curate around a theme and build a network of peers. By advertising and fundraising for our event, we learned about outreach and audience development. Altogether, we each learned a new skill to bring to our professional lives. 

We’re looking forward to finishing off the year and passing on our knowledge to the next generation of the Youth Advisory Committee. Check out photos from the day, and keep up with our developments, on the YAC Facebook page.

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