Theatre gala festivities raise spirits and funds

More than 500 performing arts patrons discovered how Flato Markham Theatre’s Discovery Programs work magic on young, aspiring performing artists.

On Oct. 13, at the ninth annual Discovery Gala, guests were entertained with performances by students of the 2018 Discovery summer camp and student benefactors from Markham high schools. The theatre’s Discovery Program helps foster and promote an appreciation for the performing arts for people of all walks of life at all ages.

Mayor Frank Scarpitti described Flato Markham Theatre as “the ideal venue for outstanding performances that move and inspire us. Art, music and dramatic expression come alive at this theatre and it would not be possible without your kind contributions.”

Flato Markham Theatre honourary patron and Flato Developments president Shakir Rehmatulla echoed those sentiments saying how humbled he is to see the community come together to support the theatre and the arts.

“As a community builder and long-time resident of Markham, I have seen the positive impact these opportunities and programs have had on young peoples’ lives,” he said. “To empower our youth and to prepare them for a dynamic future, we must foster their creativity and increase arts awareness. It is an essence of the human experience that shapes our future.”

The gala that culminated with a sold-out performance by Blue Rodeo. The band’s two-hour set regaled and rocked the audience with unabashed verve. Highlights included rousing versions of Lost Together, 5 Days in May and Hasn’t Hit Me Yet.

“Our successes as a performing arts venue and education outreach institution are directly the results of community support,” said Eric Lariviere, Flato Markham Theatre general manager, who noted the gala raised more than $150,000. “But, to bring more internationally acclaimed acts to Markham, to introduce more people to the performing arts we need to invite more businesses and individuals to lend their support.”

During the theatre’s 2017/2018 season, approximately 7,000 elementary school students attended a world-class performance at no charge through the Every Child Every Year program and more than 1,100 kids attended Discovery Program camps. Enrollment exceeded capacity, with more than 600 children on a wait list, while more than 4,500 community members at-large experienced Discovery outreach through informances in public spaces, workshops, master classes and artist talkbacks.

This season, Discovery activities include a master class by classical pianist Alain Lefèvre, who will lead a session with four Unionville high school students, observed by 30 student colleagues. That evening Lefèvre will conduct a second master class for piano students of Yahama Music School in Markham.

“We also have a joint program with Varley Art Gallery that ties together the gallery’s exhibition, Canadian Art of the First World War, with a performance of All is Calm, a play about the Christmas Eve truce of the First World War, at the theatre,” says Monica Pain, Discovery Program coordinator. “We’ll be offering a special price to the Nov. 29 performance for all students who attend the gallery exhibition. We’re also doing a letter writing activation program, asking Markham District students to write a letter from the perspective of a soldier or family member.”

Photo: Blue Rodeo performs at Flato Markham Theatre gala. Photo courtesy of Corr Vision Photography.

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