Art in all its forms, is a place of refuge, of comfort, of inspiration, of expression. We turn to art in times of celebration, in times of change, in times of stress and sorrow, when we’re looking for adventure, understanding, release, or to find community.
The performing arts in particular serve to illustrate stories in the most literal form. They offer a platform for human expression and the sharing of life’s experiences; experiences that as an audience member may personally resonate, and ones that may serve to educate and open a window to the lives of others that walk a path unlike our own.
An evening in the Theatre is a collaborative human experience that will never be repeated. No two audiences are ever alike. No two performances are ever the same.
When I tell people that Theatre Orangeville is a not-for-profit charitable organization I’m often met with surprise. To us, it means so much more than how we manage our books. It means we have a mission and a mandate to serve not just the art we produce and the artists we hire, but our community.
We are here to serve our community, to bring people together, to nurture young minds, create safer spaces, to be a leader of accessibility and inclusion. We’re here to create a pocket of the world where all are welcome to share a piece of themselves without fear of judgment; where their expression can be met with curiosity and gratitude for the courage and bravery it takes to share that piece of themselves.
Art is essential.
The past four years have brought significant challenges and irrevocable change to the Canadian Theatre industry. We have seen artists and administrators lose their jobs, their livelihoods. We’ve watched Theatre doors close and stage lights come down for the last time. I thank my stars every single day that Theatre Orangeville, nor any of our staff have come to know this truth first hand. With sheer determination and unequaled passion we weathered the storm with tremendous success. We’ve continued to employ dozens of artists each year, provided programming to hundreds of youth, and finally this year saw school students returning to the space by the thousands, all despite the near 40% increase in costs and unprecedentedly low attendance for three and a half seasons (18 months of which the doors to the Opera House never once opened to the public).
As a not-for-profit we have never know the luxury of large cash reserves. The industry recommendation to still be eligible for funding is to sit on six months worth of expenses and no more. You can imagine six months of reserves does not stretch far when weathering a four year storm. Last year, much like the vast majority of our fellow theatre companies across the country, we ran a significant deficit. When we saw it coming we launched a large-scale fundraising campaign to raise $250,000.
With another year of data under our belts, we’re seeing a 20% increase to fill rates each year, which means we’re on track to seeing pre-pandemic attendance by the end of the 2024-25 Season, with the 2025-26 Season being the year that our team should all be able to breathe a little easier. With this calculation, we have found the need to increase that goal to $350,000 to bridge the gap.
We are 100% committed to seeing this company through to easier times. To do that, we hope that our community will continue to offer its unwavering support of us. By donating to our I Love My Theatre Orangeville campaign you can help us ensure the viability and vitality of your theatre. You can help us ensure that youth continue to find a place where they are embraced for their authentic selves, where our neuro-diverse community can discover a place of true acceptance and inclusion, where artists and audience members can share in the art and pleasure of storytelling and where we all can think, feel, cry, laugh and love. Where we can be unapologetically human together.
Donations of all sizes are valued. We are grateful for every single dollar. If you’re not able to donate but believe in the Theatre and still want to help, consider buying a ticket and seeing a show, or perhaps bring a friend who’s never been before. Buy a gift certificate for your inlaws. Suggest to your company that the Theatre is always looking for new sponsors to support our programs. Tell your new neighbour about us when they ask you about our community - your recommendation is always more powerful than our advertisement.
We are so lucky to live here in this place that honours art and culture so very much. Thank you for choosing to be a part of that.
- Sharyn Ayliffe, Theatre Orangeville Executive Director
“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” - Pablo Picasso