Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses at Soulpepper. Photo: Dahlia Katz
Staging Change 2020 Companies Funded to Advance Promising Prototypes

Staging Change is Metcalf’s multi-year strategic funding initiative in the performing arts. Offered in collaboration with EmcArts — now part of CultureSourceStaging Change provides adaptive learning in support of innovation within performing arts organizations in Toronto.

Staging Change is delivered over four stages, and we are delighted to share that all four Staging Change 2020 companies that were part of Stage 3 will be moving forward to Stage 4: Jamii Esplanade, Outside the March, Soulpepper Theatre Company, and Tangled Art + Disability.

Stage 4: Amplifying Innovation is designed to help organizations amplify the most promising prototypes that they have developed and tested in response to their chosen complex challenge — with the aim to eventually incorporate these solutions into their core operations. Each company will receive up to $150,000 over two years to support their work in Stage 4.


Jamii Esplanade

Jamii (Swahili for “community”) is an arts organization committed to enhancing social cohesion within The Esplanade community in downtown Toronto and beyond. Jamii offers intergenerational programming that creates a sense of belonging and opportunities for social interaction, dialogue, and empowerment. By creating shared memorable arts-based experiences, Jamii brings Esplanadians together to form closer community bonds.

Complex challenge: to experiment with an intentional organizational structure, that would, in the context of an ever-changing landscape, explore new pathways to nurture leadership, while also strengthening our values and embracing our essence.

Amplification focus: framed under the title Unearth, Jamii will focus on igniting a social invitation to all members of the communities they serve, so that they can heal, (re)connect, collaborate, be nurtured, share space, and inspire creativity. This will be explored through a series of convenings and conversations that are directed both internally and externally with the community.

Outside the March

Outside the March is a theatre company best known for their immersive presentations of new or existing work in unexpected places. Bringing underused spaces into the public eye and welcoming audiences who don’t normally find themselves at the theatre, Outside the March has invited audiences to play in kindergarten classrooms, parade with royalty along the Danforth, tinker in garages, shelter in movie theatres, sleuth over their telephones, and more.

Complex challenge: to embrace more predictive systems for developing our new work, yielding even richer and more surprising creative outcomes.

Amplification focus: to expand a new creation model, called Cardboarding, which is a replicable and elastic early experimentation process that supports the crucial interaction between lead creators, Outside the March staff, and core collaborators. It allows the company to introduce structure while maintaining their no-size-fits-all approach; it allows staff to wrap their heads around the idiosyncratic, evolving needs of each project while gaining the information they need to address unmovable imperatives like grant deadlines and critical paths.

Soulpepper Theatre Company

Soulpepper is Toronto’s largest not-for-profit theatre company, known for the boldness of its productions, its celebration of vital Canadian voices, and the excellence of its acting ensemble. Founded and guided by artists, Soulpepper has an integrated mission which includes: industry-leading youth and community outreach initiatives; artist training and mentorship programs; and a year-round season including mainstage plays, theatrical concerts, musical performances, and cabarets.

Complex challenge: to thrive as an organization that understands, supports, and actively demonstrates our commitment to Radical Inclusion, both within and beyond the walls of the Young Centre, through recognizing and dismantling exclusionary systems, and by innovating new ways of working.

Amplification focus: to deepen their Community Element prototype, which has a focus on strengthening their relationships with equity-seeking and marginalized communities in Toronto, residents from surrounding neighbourhoods, George Brown Theatre School, and artists and artistic collaborators. The work will involve creating a new role at Soulpepper, the Director of Education and Community Engagement; investing in program appropriate human resources; defining protocols for authentic relationship building with various communities; addressing barriers to engagement so that their space is permeable and welcoming; and undertaking two to three Community Element projects that are at the core of the engagement model they are creating.

Tangled Art + Disability

Tangled Art + Disability is boldly redefining how the world experiences art and those who create it by developing, promoting, and employing Deaf, Mad & Disabled artists and arts leaders, and by increasing opportunities for all people to experience the arts. Tangled Art + Disability uses the power of art as a transforming medium to create new standards of excellence in the arts by prioritizing inclusivity through accessible curatorial, programming, and art making practices.

Complex challenge: to maintain the integrity of Tangled’s identity and ethos of inter-personal support while developing a hybrid-programming model that includes virtual, in-person, and hybrid activities and, in so doing, expand our engagement with and impact on non-crip communities.

Amplification focus: Anywhere Tours, one of two prototypes they are amplifying, grew out of their desire to maintain the feeling of intimacy that is central to their operations. Using technology such as iPads and a robot, folks from anywhere can “drop in” to the gallery and be offered a tour. The second prototype is S.N.U.G. (Small New Universe Gallery), an opportunity to test the potential for involving community members in small acts of creativity and care that can build on each other, creating an enhanced feeling of belonging to the Tangled community through the creation of art.