In the past couple of weeks, I have been encouraged. As the leaves and flowers have continued to bloom and more and more friends and family have received their vaccinations, I have seen so many beautiful glimpses of community.
Last weekend, I was walking through Lheidli T’enneh Park, as I do several times each week, and I heard the pounding of a hand drum from a small gathering of people. I smiled when I heard it. It was like the heartbeat of the land. The drumming subsided as I passed by the playground, only to be replaced by different drum sounds – a full drum kit accompanied by a bass and a distorted electric guitar. I followed the sound and saw a group of guys people playing music in the bandshell. I sat down in the grass with my back against a tree trunk and took in what was maybe the first live performance I’d seen in over a year.
There wasn’t much of a crowd, but the joy and appreciation of the few of us who were there listening was tangible. There was cheering and clapping after every song. To the guys playing music in the park that day, I don’t know who you are, but thank you.
And then there was the kind elderly woman who called me on Theatre NorthWest’s lobby phone to offer to donate her old sewing supplies for our sewing camps. We arranged a time for her to drop off her fabrics and supplies later that day and I remember looking forward to seeing her – to sharing that brief minute of connection with a stranger.
When I met her that afternoon, I told her how much we and our students appreciated her gift. These fabrics, buttons, and thread, along with others donated by generous members of our community, will be used by children and teens attending our sewing camps this summer to make pin cushions, bags, and other great projects. We have had the pleasure of holding two one-day camps already this spring, with more coming up on June 4thand 5thbefore we begin our week-long camps at the end of June. I’m proud to be part of an organization that provides this kind of fun, educational experience for young people in our community.
But these camps are not just about the students, and they’re not just about revenue either. The original motivation behind these sewing camps was part of TNW’s commitment to providing employment for artists in the north during our offseason. There are not many work opportunities for a costume designer, for example, during the summer months in this region.
Our sewing camps provide an opportunity for a costume designer to work in their field while inspiring a younger generation to develop artistic talent. It is our hope that our sewing camps will play a part in inspiring kids to pursue the arts, and demonstrating that artists can live and work in Northern communities. In addition to this, we want to welcome these young people in our theatre so that it becomes increasingly recognized as a space for everyone in our community, not just for grownups in fancy heels or dress jackets.
This is also why we partner with local schools to present discounted student matinees, and with other local non-profits like AiMHi and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern BC. As part of our mission and mandate, TNW continually seeks to break down barriers, perceived or actual, to the pleasures and benefits of theatre for both theatre professionals and audience members.
So if you’ve never come to the theatre before, I hope you’ll consider visiting us in the fall. Whether you’re a stranger or a friend, young or less young, we’d love to see you.