Theatre Ontario is an association of community, educational and professional theatre organisations and individuals who are dedicated to the development and maintenance of high quality theatre in all parts of the province that is accessible to and reflects all segments of our society. They serve as the centre of the province's information network for people in theatre. They help to develop and promote artistic, technical and management learning and training opportunities for individuals and theatre companies across the province. Theatre Ontario members Celebrates excellence in theatre through festivals, showcases and award programs. It also gives access to the arts and culture in communities and schools across Ontario Actively supports networks of dedicated theatre people who promote cultural tourism, training, festivals, arts education, information sharing, health & safety issues and audience development.
Theatre Ontario came into existence in 1971, as the result of a meeting of theatre leaders at the Ontario Theatre Conference at Lake Couchiching. From the beginning it was determined that Theatre Ontario would be a unique service organisation with membership, programs and services for all the sectors that make up theatre in the province - community, educational, youth and professional. Incorporated in August 1971, Theatre Ontario immediately filled the gap created by the demise of the Dominion Drama Festival. Theatre Ontario's first employee was the late Maggie Bassett who pioneered dynamic training programs that benefited the entire province.
The Dominion Drama Festival was a bilingual drama festival, which ran from 1932-78 and was a breeding ground for many of the artists who laid the foundation for the modern Canadian theatre. It was founded as a pan-Canada amateur competition that would bring the regional winners together to compete for a variety of prizes given by a British and French judges. The prizes would include awards for acting, design, direction, original writing and best production. The beginning of Quebec nationalism, and accusations - arguably false - of federalist or Central Canada bias in the judging and policy-making signalled the beginning of the end of the DDF. The competitions ended in 1970 when DDF became Théâtre Canada and a showcase for regional theatre. By 1978 the Ottawa headquarters for the festival had closed. Theatre Ontario was founded about the same time of the closing of this national festival. It acted as cushion for the theatrical community to land on after the festival was abolished. Without the quick reaction of the Theatre Ontario organisation, Canadian theatre may not have flourished to become the great theatre which it is today. Thanks to the Ontario Theatre organisation, Toronto is now the third greatest city for theatre in the world, just behind London and New York.
1) Dominion Drama Festival 19 Dec. 1997 www.canadiantheatre.com
2) Theatre Ontario 16 Oct. 1994 www.theatreontario.org
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