"Not only were students trained in various aspects of stage and theatre, but they were also encouraged to support diversity and embrace differences in one another, and that is a lesson that you cannot put a price tag on."
Supporting Generational Change Through Diversity
We have seen firsthand the impact we can have on the lives of young Canadians through arts education and training, and we are learning how to help dismantle systemic constructs which serve as barriers to representation and participation.
We can continue advancing our work in this area by supporting the generational shift through the emerging diversity of our industry and community. This will involve expanding our reach to include families unfamiliar with Drayton Entertainment, and families unfamiliar with the benefits of theatre arts training programs.
We need to provide not only a continuation of training for enthusiastic arts-lovers, but also a welcoming entry point for marginalized and underrepresented groups, with special emphasis on youth identifying as Black, Indigenous or Persons of Colour (BIPOC), LGBTQ+, and/or Persons with Disabilities.
If people are able to actively participate, they feel welcomed – which in turn helps strengthen their sense of belonging … to our community, and to each other through our shared humanity. Belonging is fundamental to our happiness and well-being, as it is informed by experiences with the people and places to which we feel connected. At the Youth Academy, EVERYONE with a passion for the arts is welcome. EVERYONE belongs.
To create an environment that is safe, inclusive and comfortable, a broad spectrum of lived experiences will be represented through the Academy’s administration, faculty, staff, and advisors, using their differences as a tenet of our teaching.
Many working artists attribute their success to early life experiences, as reinforced by their artistic development (opportunity leads to experience, which then leads to more opportunity).
For artists identifying as Black, Indigenous or Person of Colour (BIPOC), the cycle of circularity is often very different (no opportunity leads to inadequate experience, which leads to lost opportunity). If arts organizations do not break this cycle, the system can be virtually impenetrable for these artists.
The reality is that quality theatre arts training has historically been reserved for those who can afford it from an early age. Our Tuition Bursary Endowment Fund will help alleviate financial barriers to participation by supporting bursaries, scholarships and co-op opportunities for talented marginalized youth that help address this imbalance.
Endowments are investment pools that permanently hold funds for a specific purpose.The principal is never spent; rather, the interest generated annually will subsidize bursaries in perpetuity, forming a strong foundation for years to come.
Our goal is to grow our offerings so that we are equipped to accommodate a broad range of accessibility needs, including physical (mobility, hearing, and visual impairments) and neurodiversity (sociability, learning, attention, mood, and other mental functions).
Geographical access also remains a top priority. Many of Drayton Entertainment’s theatres exist in small, rural communities with limited access to arts and culture. New programs and initiatives developed within our youth cultural hub will be designed so that they may expand and have a multiplier effect to these communities throughout Ontario, thereby encouraging youth from small towns to have big dreams.