A Note from Executive Director, Patty Jarvis
On Oct. 11, 2016 Prologue marked 50 years of bringing performing arts to young people across the province. In schools and communities Prologue artists have introduced dance (from contemporary to classic), music (from bluegrass to African drumming), opera, theatre, story-telling, spoken word, puppetry, clown, mime, physical theatre…each discipline bringing opportunities for discovery and wonder. As adults, we remember those moments from our childhood when magic happened because someone introduced us to an artistic experience that presented new ways of seeing and knowing our world and ourselves.
Knowing that there are hundreds of thousands of people who had one (or hopefully more) of those moments because of Prologue is…well, so humbling. As the task of facilitating those moments has become increasingly challenging over the years, the value and meaning has not changed at all. When Prologue founders Jane Bishop, Joan McCordic, Mary Mingie, Joan Osler and Susan Rubes sat down, more than 50 years ago, to create a way for all children to have access to the organizations that they were affiliated with at that time (Canadian Opera Company, National Ballet of Canada and Young People’s Theatre) – they did a remarkable thing. Their vision for Prologue reflected what is even truer today than it was then – children, all children in our diverse and rich society, deserve equal opportunities that include, through their education and development, access to celebrations and explorations of culture.
This past weekend I attended the CODE (Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators) Conference. I have been personally participating in CODE for many years and Prologue has been an avid supporter of this vibrant network of drama and dance teachers for almost all of our 50 year history. As always, there were passionate discussions about how we can all better serve young people as they explore and grow. It was evident that the work of arts educators is full of challenges, but the conference affirmed that our partnerships with the education community form a foundation of support for ensuring that all young people have access to artistic experiences.
For me the real focus of the conference was the exploration of and need for inclusion. The world is a very different place now than it was in our beginnings and as we continue to work closely with schools and school boards, we must support educational priorities. Classrooms today are filled with young people who identify in many different ways. We are all on a journey of learning as these young people teach us about what respect and diversity means. I was deeply moved by Anthony Sansonetti who spoke on one of the Panel Presentations. He described children “creating themselves” as they grow and being engaged in their own unique creative process. His powerful and moving message about the ways that we “marginalize” some children has led me to think deeply about Prologue’s role is supporting all children in their self-creation through our work with artists and in schools.
The marking of 50 years is both nostalgic and progressive, affirming and challenging – I believe that our 50th anniversary is a celebration of connecting with so many young people for so many years and a call to action to determine how best our programming can support the work of educators and the development of children in the future.
Prologue at CODE
Clockwise: Prologue’s trade fair table, Theatre Workshop, Prologue Artist Sultans of String performance, Prologue Artist Emily Cheung of Little Pear Garden Dance Company visits us!