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Stratford-Gazette
Tori Sutton

Tori Sutton

Llyandra Jones performs a scene from The Bear at the Ontario Trillium Foundation grant announcement last Friday. Alternative Theatre Works is presenting the play at Factory163 September through October utilizing lighting equipment purchased through the grant.

The local performing arts community got a boost Friday when a $36,000 Ontario Trillium Grant was announced.

The grant, awarded to the Kiwanis Festival of the Performing Arts, will be used to purchase technical equipment for live stage productions.

The announcement was made during the Off The Wall Stratford Artists Alliance open house at Factory163.

Beginning this fall, lighting and sound equipment and a portable and adjustable stage will be available not only for Kiwanis Festival use, but to community arts groups at large. The equipment will be stored at Northwestern secondary school.

MPP Randy Pettapiece was on-hand for the announcement. He noted to be successful, Trillium grant applicants must demonstrate the community is behind the project, something that is well illustrated in this case.

“Your hard work is helping to build and strengthen our local community,” Pettapiece said. “I look forward to seeing this new equipment being put to good use by youth across the community as they showcase the talent that Stratford has to offer.”

The lighting equipment – which includes towers, lights and a dimmer board – has already benefited Off The Wall, which used the new equipment to teach a recent unit on stage lighting as part of its theatre production arts summer course. The lights will be used in the upcoming Three Plays After series, being presented by Alternative Theatre Works at Factory163. Off The Wall students designed the stage set for the production.

Ontario Trillium Foundation grant review team member, Rena Spevack, applauded the Kiwanis Festival for giving youth a chance to challenge themselves artistically and noted the love of music carries everyone through their years.

“The Kiwanis music festival struck the right note with the Ontario Trillium Foundation,” she quipped.

Stratford Northwestern principal Martin Ritsma noted it’s all about partnerships, and said he was pleased to play a role.

The Kiwanis Festival is making the equipment available, while the Avon Maitland District School Board has painted and invested in a drop down screen for the stage in the Northwestern auditorium, to protect items on the stage. For its part, the school has installed new curtains on the stage at a cost of $10,000.

Ritsma said Northwestern has always had great human resources and the equipment purchased by the Trillium grant would complement that by providing great physical resources.

“That will certainly make Stratford Northwestern a great place for productions,” he said, noting the school has the highest community use of any school in the board.

Kiwanis Festival executive director, Michele Boniface, said the new equipment will allow Northwestern to host the Sears Drama Festival and will ensure the Stratford Community Players no longer have to rent equipment from Toronto. Groups have already started booking the equipment, she added.

“We’re looking forward to April when our Kiwanis Festival dance competition will take place on a stage that is eight feet deeper than it was before,” Boniface said.

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