Grand OnStage performances are supported and amplified by engagement that aims to build community and expand the reach of the presenting program. Through master classes, pre-and post-show artist talks, workshops, partnerships, artist residencies, and more, the engagement program supports greater access and opportunities for engagement with the performing arts for all. The Kingston Grand Theatre and Grand OnStage also offer young people the opportunity to experience world-class theatre, dance, and music through a live performance school programs and arts learning.
During the pandemic, engagement with Kingston artists has expanded and new initiatives were launched to support local artist development.
Engagement and Learning Highlights
•Grand OnStage Elder-in-Residence, to share knowledge, traditional teachings, and offer cultural support to patrons and artists. Grandmother Kathy Brant is the current Elder-in-Residence. She is Mohawk of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy.
•When the venue closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic, the Grand OnStage 2019-2020 season had already offered over 40 engagement and education activities including:
- Family and school performances of Dog Man (based on Dev Pilkey’s popular children’s book) featuring live ASL interpretation
- Traditional Latin instrument “show & tell” with Teaching Artist Yessica Rivera Belsham
- Circus workshop with Erin Ball of Kingston Circus Arts
- Storytime sessions hosted by Kingston Frontenac Library
- Theatre talkbacks with Huff playwright/actor Cliff Cardinal
- A Ballet Winter Wonderland with local youth ballerinas
- Africville Stories talk with Dr. Barrington Walker
- Leonard Cohen poetry workshop with Kingston Poet Laureate Jason Heroux
- Life & Music of Allen Toussaint talk with Chantal Thompson
•Virtual Grand OnStage Program engagement including post-show artist talks and local partnerships. Unique engagement opportunities launched to support Grand OnStage shows delivered through streaming.
•In partnership with Shortwave Theatre Festival, CFRC Radio 101.9, and Cellar Door Project, Kingston Grand Theatre supported and highlighted the talents of Kingston artists by presenting five special 'Postcard Plays’ penned by local playwrights and designed by local artist Ben Nelson. The five play vignettes in the series were based on full-length plays by the playwrights featured in Shortwave’s inaugural radio play festival line-up in 2020.
•In partnership with The Dan School of Drama & Music at Queen’s University, The City of Kingston and Kingston Grand Theatre co-presented a free virtual songwriting workshop led by celebrated Canadian musical theatre composer and Watershed Festival Artist-in-Residence, Leslie Arden that reached local secondary-school students, educators and community members.
•Local Arts Residency, supporting Kingston artists explore new ideas, create and nurture new directions in their work. The Residency was established in response to the impact of COVID-19 on the performing arts. The residency, which ran from June-November 2021, provided free space, professional production and technical support, and an honourarium to local performing artists. Through collaborations between the selected artists-in-residence and other artists in the community, 60 artists in total were able to create and rehearse on the Regina Rosen stage. Behind-the-scenes videos of the residencies were created and promoted and can be found here.
•On the Contrary, a new audio series created by young emerging artists, for young emerging artists in Kingston. This program is co-by artists Kemi King and Gloria Digby and features and profiles young, emerging Kingston performing artists to learn about their practice, how they’ve navigated COVID-19, and what they see shifting in the sector in Kingston and beyond. The series aims to create new links between artists and audiences and promote the Kingston Grand Theatre as a space that supports and engages local artists. This series is presented by the City of Kingston, the Arts & Culture Services department, and Kingston Grand Theatre.
Learn more about Kingston Grand Theatre and Grand OnStage engagement and learning opportunities below.