Reaching Youth In Hamilton
The Hamilton Fringe Festival draws thousands of people into the downtown core every year. Contributing to the city’s growing arts and theatre culture, the festival is a vehicle for local, national and international companies, emerging artists and senior artists, to showcase their craft and advance their skills. Now approaching its 11th year the Festival keeps growing and growing, exploring new performance spaces and formats, attracting a wide variety of performers and an even wider audience. If you are an experienced ‘Fringer’ then you already know all this! You know about the dedicated volunteers and the passionate artists. You may still have a Fringe button or two and the stories to accompany them (*see below, let us know). Perhaps you are one of the many theatre enthusiasts looking forward to a festival you know and love. You may NOT know that the Hamilton Fringe Festival is also working to have a positive effect on the Hamilton community in other ways.
As the Festival grows new ways to engage and impact our community are being explored. One way in which the festival is working to make this impact is by reaching out to youth in our community. The Youth Access Pass, affectionately known as the YAP, was developed for the 2013 Fringe and its distribution has been expanded for the upcoming 2014 festival to allow eligible youth to access to the Festival free of charge. The pass is designed to facilitate access to the arts in our community for youth who may face economic, cultural or other barriers. These passes allow each participant access to complimentary tickets for up to 10 performances of their choice during the festival. These complimentary tickets are offered to participants on a ‘rush’ basis. This means that paid patrons will be accommodated first and then if seats remain they will be made available to Youth Access Pass participants. In coordination with youth outreach workers and the Hamilton Wentworth district school board we are hoping to reach more than 300 youth this year. The Hamilton Fringe Festival strongly believes in creating an accessible environment that empowers young people to engage in their community through arts and theatre.
As the Associate Producer it has been a part of my job to connect with youth workers in Hamilton to increase the distribution of the YAP. Every time I speak with a youth worker and explain the program I get the same overwhelmingly positive response. Youth workers are excited to offer this program to the young people they work with and I am excited to be a part of that.
For some of the youth, using a YAP may be their first experience with live theatre. The Fringe offers an impressively diverse selection of performances each year allowing youth to develop their understanding of different types of theatre as well as the opportunity to see what types of theatre are being created here in their community. The Fringe Festival is also a chance for young Hamiltonians to discover a volunteer-based organization that can allow them to positively impact their community while enjoying the excitement of theatre. In the future we hope to expand this exciting program to effectively engage even more young people here in Hamilton.
For more information about the YAP program write to us here: [email protected]
If you’re interested in volunteering for our 2014 Festival contact: [email protected]
Crystal is a director, producer and actor who has appeared on stages in Toronto, Ottawa and throughout the Hamilton area. In 2013 she received the Emerging Artist Award in Theatre at the Hamilton Arts Awards. Crystal preformed in the very first year of the Hamilton Fringe Festival and in subsequent years participated as an actor, director and community reviewer. Crystal is the Associate Producer of the 2014 Hamilton Fringe Festival, a mentorship position with Festival Director Claire Calnan, made possible through the support of Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program.
*Last year the Fringe enjoyed record attendance numbers. We want to talk to you about that! Did you go to the Fringe for the first time? Do you have a story to tell? Write [email protected] We will be featuring ‘Fringers Fringing’ Stories throughout the run-up and during the festival – July 17-27.