June 6, 2017 (St Catharines, ON) – The Foster Festival was joined by Wise Guys Charity Fund on June 6th to receive a major donation to launch the Festival’s newest charitable initiative, inspired by CompassionateSTC.
As lead donor, Wise Guys has given the Foster Festival a $5000 grant to execute The Festival’s LOCAL HEROES initiative. Working in partnership with Bethlehem Housing and Support Services, The Foster Festival will offer 100 free tickets to this summer’s productions for Bethlehem Housing and Support Services to distribute to their clients and users.
In a ceremony at the end of the first day of rehearsal for the Foster Festival’s season opener, the World Premiere of Screwball Comedy, Executive Director Emily Oriold, Artistic Director Patricia Vanstone, namesake Playwright Norm Foster and Foster Festival Board Members Tom Arkell, Lisa Matheson and Deborah Slade welcomed Wise Guys Board members Anne Kemp and Brian Hutchings who presented the Foster Festival with the $5000 cheque.
“The Wise Guys aims to reflect compassion and kindness to the Niagara Community. The collaboration of the Foster Festival Local Heroes program with Bethlehem Housing fully demonstrates the kindness and compassion, the Wise Guys are proud to provide a grant to enable this program to flourish,” said Mr. Hutchings.
Mahtay Café & Lounge will join the Local Heroes program as a hospitality partner offering a $10 gift card per ticket for a post-show treat.
“At the Foster Festival we feel that by offering a free afternoon or evening in the theatre, people who might never feel that this kind of experience is within reach financially will have a great and enjoyable cultural experience and the chance to feel part of the wider community”, Executive Director Emily Oriold explained.
“We are pleased to partner with the Foster Festival to provide this opportunity for our residents to experience the heart and humour of a Norm Foster show” says Lori Beech, Executive Director, Bethlehem Housing and Support Services. “Many of our residents have experienced some form of trauma in their lives and laughter can be the best medicine for the soul.”
St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik has made a major commitment to address poverty in the city – CompassionateSTC is the result of that commitment.
“My vision for our city is a community where everyone can live, work and enjoy life. Sadly, this isn’t the case for everyone,” said Mayor Sendzik in a written statement. “Tonight, I am heartened to express my sincere appreciation to the Wise Guys as the lead donor and Mahtay Café as the hospitality donor, to the Foster Festival’s Local Heroes program. The opportunity to be exposed to the arts builds an appreciation for culture and provides a valuable social experience to those who wouldn’t be able to access such a luxury. Thank you to all partners for taking the initiative to build an inclusive, compassionate community.”
The Foster Festival fully supports CompassionateSTC. With our Local Heroes program we are opening our doors to citizens who struggle to meet basic needs.
“We believe that everyone should have access to the arts.” says Artistic Director Patricia Vanstone. “We know that shared experience of heartfelt laughter at a Norm Foster play can lift the soul and lighten the burden of everyday worries”.
The first production of 2017 will be the World Premiere of Screwball Comedy playing from June 21 until July 7, followed by Foster’s Old Love playing from July 12 to 28. The final production will be the World Premiere of Lunenburg, which will run from August 2 to 18.
About The Foster Festival
The Foster Festival, established in October 2015, is the only Canadian theatre festival to celebrate the work of a living playwright. Norm Foster is the most produced playwright in Canadian history, with his nearly 60 plays receiving an average of 150 productions each year across Canada and internationally. The fully professional Foster Festival has attracted some of the best artists in Canada including star of stage and screen Sheila McCarthy and the multi-talented Lisa Horner. In addition to working closely with the City of St. Catharines, The Festival also partners with The Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre of Niagara, The Boys and Girls Club of Niagara, The Niagara Children’s Centre and Rodman Hall to provide theatre arts to the Niagara region. To learn more, please visit www.fosterfestival.com.
About Wise Guys
We are caring, dedicated volunteers and business partners who help raise and disburse funds to assist local projects and programs for the care and comfort of our community and especially its children. Over the past decades, the Wise Guys Charity Fund has worked with dozens of deserving organizations in the Niagara Region. By fundraising for Niagara, we’re able to keep improving our local community. We do this by relying on the region’s citizens, rather than the government. It allows us to independently allocate the funds, and distribute them as quickly as possible without any red tape. We’ve found it to be the best system, because it creates change at a grassroots level. By being active, responsible participants in our community’s day-to-day development, we are able to create real-world change. It’s just that simple. www.wiseguyscharity.com
About Bethlehem Housing and Support Services
Bethlehem Housing and Support Services, in partnership with the community, provides affordable housing and services to support the personal growth of individuals and families. Bethlehem is the only organization in the Niagara Region that offers supportive transitional housing and supported permanent affordable housing for women, men, and families - helping them to rebuild their lives. www.bethlehemhousing.ca