Statistics show that the BC’s arts & culture sector employs more than 78,000 people and contributes more than $5.2 billion each year to our provincial economy. The Canadian Heritage Arts Society (CHAS), owner of the Canadian College of Performing Arts, is a highly active and valued member of the rich cultural community in the Greater Victoria area.
The Society’s has a mandate to offer diverse and socially relevant quality productions with and for youth, seniors, community organizations and the general public. Our Outreach Program offers a rewarding experience for individuals who ordinarily would not be able to participate in arts & culture so that they too can discover the thrill and value of live performances.
Our Outreach Program is designed to provide an arts & culture experience to the community with professional leadership, choreography and direction while offering an opportunity for emerging artists to volunteer their artistic talent and time in the ensemble.
Community groups, social organizations, corporate sponsors, schools, seniors’ homes, businesses, and churches reach out to the Society asking to participate in our Outreach Program. CHAS selects the applications that best meet its mandate and works with that organization or group to design, create and perform (or present) for them. An appropriate performance or presentation might be singing Christmas carols at a senior’s home, or providing a professional performing artist or director to speak at a teacher’s conference or community group meeting. It may be a medley of show tunes performed at a community event or a special presentation honouring Canadian service men and women at a Remembrance Day ceremony.
The program is designed to enrich the lives of those who participate; as audience members or as performers. By delivering productions to the community in innovative ways this program inspires and ignites a passion for the arts, delivers socially relevant messages to the public and often brings together different sectors of the community.
“Community Engaged in Performance”
Major Community Event – In addition to the annual requests, the Society focuses its energies on one major community event, designing and producing a major outreach for the arts. These events usually are announced during the year and the professional directors and volunteer artists create and learn the appropriate and new material to support the major event. Some examples of this are Pizzaz! And All That Jazz (2016) with the Victoria Conservatory of Music, Masquerade Ball (2013 & 2014), David Foster Miracle Concert (2012); Headline Performers at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s 150th Celebrations (2013) and Tears Are Not Enough (2015).
Community Volunteer Program – We have developed a vibrant program where our volunteers are able to get involved in every aspect of our community outreach program through meaningful experiences where they work with professional and young artists, theatre technicians and staff. Volunteers not only reap the rewards of their growing appreciation of arts & culture, but they can also apply for positions designed to develop specific skills to improve their employability. Some examples of this are: training volunteers in managing events; developing their public speaking and networking skills as Ambassadors representing the Society at various outreach activities, and partnering with Volunteer Victoria in an initiative to educate seniors in various IT mediums in order that they can better access info online including Arts and Culture Event Calendars. In 2015 we partnered for a third year with members of the community to support the Salvation Army by hosting a Christmas Hamper Drive – a successful event with 142 hampers created!
Audience Talkback Programs – Free post or pre-show gatherings where the public is invited to talk to the cast, the director, and/or the designer of theatre productions. This is an informal way of learning about theatre productions and what it takes to prepare for working in the performing arts. We receive many requests from local schools such as Claremont High School for this type of opportunity. An example of this type of interaction would be Festival of New Works post-show Q & A session where the audiences learn about the process the pre-professional emerging artists go through to create their pieces.
Community Performances – CHAS commissions volunteer artists to perform with other professional arts organizations, for community groups, corporations and non-profits as part of their community and fund development events. The Victoria Conservatory of Music, the Salvation Army and the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island are some of the groups we worked with this past year.
Remembrance Day – An annual concert is created and performed at key locations in Victoria for a period of a week around Remembrance Day. Each concert includes a reception or an opportunity for an interactive meeting between seniors and the artists and directors. A key component of this program is having veterans from these organizations speak to the young artists in the ensemble in the weeks before the concerts to relate stories of the war and provide inspiration for the content of the concerts. Some of the organizations that have participated are the Pro Patria Legion, St Matthias Anglican Church, St. Mary’s Anglican Church and Berwick House.
Christmas Caroling – CHAS commissions young artists to create, direct and design a Christmas presentation that is made available every year to Service and Community groups as well as non-profit organizations. In 2015 the Children’s Health foundation of Vancouver Island, Berwick House, Carlton House, The greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and the E-Women’s Network are some of the groups that we performed for.
Church Outreach – CHAS partners with several churches to create events that are shared by our performing artists along with their congregation. CHAS is working to extend this outreach to a wide variety of denominations and faith traditions. Ongoing participants of this activity are St Mary’s Anglican, St Matthias Anglican and Oak Bay United.
Meet and Greet Emerging Artists Program – Pre and Post show receptions where the public is able to mix and mingle informally with the cast, crew and artistic production teams along with the Board of Directors and staff of the Canadian Heritage Arts Society. Some examples include receptions at the “On Broadway!” production (Mary Poppins), a presentation to Past Board members, and a preview of our Remembrance Day performance.
Student Ticket program – This program has won praise from students, parents and community leaders alike. CHAS has offered hundreds of students the opportunity (for many their first) to experience the magic of live theatre at reduced cost and at times, no cost at all. For our “On Broadway” production of Mary Poppins, we offered a student (and senior) matinee preview with tickets discounted by more than 70%.
Educating young students – CHAS arranged for professional artists along with Society staff to participate in a variety of Festivals, Educational Fairs and Conferences where we informed school-age kids and their parents about potential careers in the performing arts. January 2016 CHAS hosted youth and other members of the community at the Canadian College of Performing Arts for a Spend the day at CCPA event where the participants learned more about the rigors of training for a successful career in the performing arts, sampled or watched a class, enjoyed a sneak peek of performance with talk-back Q & A with the performers and were invited back to see the whole production.
Support to Emerging Artists – CHAS offers free rehearsal space and use of props and costumes to numerous young artists who are creating their own artistic production for festivals such as Victoria Fringe and UnoFest or to Greater Victoria artists throughout the year. CHAS supports emerging artists in finding their own artistic voice through the creation and sharing of new choreography, choral work, and new plays during the TD Festival of New Works where issues of religion, cultural minorities, ageism and sexual orientation are often explored. In the 2014- 2015 year, the Society sponsored the creation of a performance company made up of Canadian College of Performing Arts Alumni. The Society commissioned the creation of new works by this group that would then be directed, choreographed, stage-managed, music directed and performed at the Canadian College of Performing Arts and various groups in the community, such as schools, malls, senior residences with many being free performances. This program was remounted in our 2015-2016 year.
Public Education Sessions – Interactive presentations in non-traditional locations such as Community Associations, Fairs and Trade Shows. Recent examples include an E-Women Networking event, Saanich Newcomers Association, Uplands Golf Club, and Kaleidoscope Summer Fair.
Speakers Bureau – Presentations on topics such as “Why we should support the arts” and “Volunteer opportunity with the arts and culture sector “ to Service Organizations (i.e. Probus & Kiwanis), Corporations, and Professional Associations (i.e. through Volunteer Victoria targeting seniors). As well, CHAS arranges for pre-professional emerging artists along with Society staff to visit high schools to talk to students about careers in the arts.
Local arts organizations that we partner with (in-kind, cross rentals, cross promotions and sharing) include:
- Story Theatre Co.
- Belfry Theatre
- Kaleidoscope Theatre Company
- Ballet Victoria
- Pacific Opera Victoria
- University of Victoria Theatre Department
- Langham Court Theatre
- Victoria Operatic Society
- Victoria Conservatory of Music
- Pacific Christian School
- Oak Bay High School
- Spectrum Secondary School
- Atomic Vaudeville
- Croy and Co. Lighting
- Chemainus Theatre
- Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre
- Ballet Etoile
Corporations, Foundations, church groups, schools and service clubs from the community that benefited from our outreach activities include:
- eWomen Network
- Mary’s Anglican Church
- Matthias Church
- Carlton House Retirement Home
- Berwick Retirement Home
- Salvation Army
- Victoria Symphony Society
- Victoria Conservatory of Music
- Children’s Health Foundation
- Jeneece Place
- Danceworks Association
- Upper Island Music Festival
- Greater Victoria Music Festival
- Victoria Ballroom Dance Society
- Westshore Town Centre
- Oak Bay Lodge
- Municipality of Oak Bay
- Pacific Christian School
- Spectrum Secondary School
- Parklands Secondary School
- Victoria High School
- Margaret’s School
- Colquitz Middle School
- Boys & Girls of Victoria
- Victoria Hospice
- Clay Tree Society
- BC Career Colleges Association
- Hampton Little League
- Victoria Youth Empowerment Society
- Island Deaf & Hard of Hearing Centre
- Oak Bay United Church
- The Association of BC Drama Educators
- BC Eldercare Foundation
- Working Class Theatre in Victoria
- Theatre Inconnu
- The Victoria Pride Society
Corporations, Foundations, church groups and service clubs that supported our outreach activities over the past year through sponsorship, donations or by volunteering:
- Oak Bay Kiwanis Club
- TELUS Victoria Community Board & Ambassadors
- The Association of Fundraising Professionals
- Volunteer Victoria
- Victoria Foundation
- Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
- Tourism Victoria
- Times Colonist
- CFAX and Kool FM
- CTV Vancouver Island
- Hillside Printing
- Cordova Bay 55+ Association
- Sarah McLachlan School of Music
Additional Details of Community Benefit
Life-long community bonds – These programs are designed as 2-way learning experiences where the young emerging artists learn from members of the community about their past, their life journeys and their experiences while the members of the community learn about the performing arts and the dedication, passion and talent needed for our youth to succeed in this challenging industry. Many of the programs activities are focused on multi-generational programming aimed specifically at connecting youth with seniors.
Enriched lives – The lives of seniors are greatly enriched through this program by giving them a purpose. Through sharing their knowledge and experience with the next generation, our young emerging artists learn to empathise with their elders while benefiting from their wisdom. The knowledge and understanding gained through this interaction are essential as our youth develop into the cultural leaders of tomorrow. This kind of programming also gives our seniors confidence from a greater understanding of (rather than fear of) the younger generations! In addition, experiencing arts and culture has been linked to improved quality of life.
Community pride – A significant number of our volunteers are seniors. We specifically target this group since active senior demographics are highly reflected in our community. We create several opportunities (volunteer tea, holiday social, receptions etc.) for our senior volunteers to mix and socialize with the young emerging artists, other artistic and technical staff, as well as the directors and management of the Society. We seized as many opportunities as possible to celebrate the value these senior volunteers bring to the table, making them the lifeblood of our organization. The pride that these seniors show at these events for their contribution to the Society and to our emerging artists is immense. Our program also benefited youth in our community by providing volunteer opportunities where they are involved with mounting a theatrical production thereby exposing them to career opportunities in the arts while developing new skill sets.
Successful collaborations with Professional Organizations in the Province – We collaborated with the Victoria Symphony Society to create an original theatrical experience for Victoria audiences. Other past and future planned collaborations include; The Belfry Theatre, Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, Pacific Opera Victoria, United Way and more.
Supporting other charitable causes – We are unable to respond to all of the numerous requests that we receive from the community to perform and participate in their events. This means we choose the causes that we can support based on which ones we feel would benefit the community the most, such as guest performances for a fundraising event for the Queen Alexandra Hospital and the David Foster Foundation.
Volunteer skill development – The Society has developed a volunteer program that offers new challenges and rewards for our volunteers. We design positions that allow our volunteers to develop new skill sets. A recent example of this is our past Volunteer Coordinator who expressed an interest in a career in human resources. The knowledge and experience gained in this role were instrumental in this volunteer being employed in her chosen field.