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Generator and The Riser Project

Sector Developers for Independent Theatre in Toronto

February 28, 201828 February 2018

Arts attendance & participation / Arts organization management

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This report, “largely based on 29 interviews with staff, participants and related stakeholders”, explores two initiatives that support independent theatre makers in Toronto: Generator (“a capacity building and mentoring organization for independent performance makers”) and The RISER Project (“a collaborative and charitable approach to production and presentation”). As noted in the report:

  • “Generator’s motivation could be described as wanting to help independent theatremakers make art with less (administrative) pain or tedium, and more resources and efficiency. The RISER Project’s motivation could be described as wanting to see more independent theatremakers have opportunities to present their work on professional stages in a sustainable way.”

The report identifies important challenges in theatre making in Toronto (beyond global concerns about theatre audiences): “a perceived oversupply of makers, high cost of living, growing disparity in the city between the rich and the poor, lack of affordable venues, various geographical and accessibility concerns associated with a sprawling metropolis serviced by a less than stellar public transit system, and a public that has plenty of other enticing things to do in Toronto every single night”.

In this context, the two initiatives share common strategies, including “acceleration, immersion, coaching, co-residencies, culture and collectivity”. Furthermore, both ventures “are building up people and resources, and building out communities, networks and infrastructure”.

The report suggests that, beyond the initiatives’ shared strategies, their key offering might be hope for independent theatre makers. The report suggests that “‘return on hope’ might form the basis of a rubric for assessing the value of actions and ventures aimed at shifting systems or transforming stagnant realities. If return on investment (ROI) measures the economic value of a venture, might return on hope (ROH) measure its human, social, creative or transformative value?”

The report concludes with a “call to action … for more preoccupation with developing and supporting actions that build hope sustainably”.

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