A recently published research paper commissioned by the Toronto Arts Foundation with the support of the Metcalf Foundation and Toronto Arts Council highlights two exciting initiatives designed to allow Toronto’s independent theatre to flourish. Generator and The RISER Project: Sector Developers for Independent Theatre in Toronto by Helen Yung makes clear that while each enterprise has a different focus, both Generator and The RISER Project address issues of scarcity that are endemic to the sector.
Generator began in 1992 as the Small Theatre Administrative Facility (STAF) and for decades offered support services to companies, enabling them to mount productions. In 2014, STAF altered its mandate from providing support services to capacity building and changed its name. Currently Generator helps independent theatre makers by offering shared office space and other resources such as workshops and mentorships and the use of two full-time staff to assist producers.
In 2014, Why Not Theatre developed The RISER Project. Designed to look like a theatre festival, it is a new collaborative producing model for theatre artists and companies, which has multiple independent productions running annually in repertory for several weeks in April and May. These shows are produced through the support of senior partner companies, which pool resources by making financial and in kind donations, thereby creating the capacity for independent companies to produce new work. To date, The RISER Project has produced 15 new Canadian productions seen by nearly 5000 people.
By studying both programs, it is hoped that the report and subsequent discussions will result in these innovative producing ideas being shared with other jurisdictions and also for other capacity building ideas to evolve. The full report and discussion paper can be accessed at the Toronto Arts Foundation.