Alberta Theatre Projects welcomes Newcomers

The Cause

Here at Alberta Theatre Projects, we create community, and our vision is a world where minds and hearts are opened through the life-changing experience of theatre. It is imperative that we play a role in welcoming newcomers and inspiring them in their new home. According to the Government of Canada, 1,400 Syrian refugees have arrived in Calgary between November 04, 2015 and March 04, 2016. Our staff and board include newcomers to Canada, and several of us have connections to groups helping refugees in Calgary. We are personally invested in offering our new neighbours a seat in our theatre and a chance to share our work. Through our Youth Engagement programs, close partnerships with many community organizations, and outreach to underserved communities – ATP has a longstanding practice of making our theatre experience accessible to all. With corporate support, and by working with community partner organizations with which we have well-established connections, we will invite Calgary newcomers and their families, including from the Syrian-Canadian community, to attend one of four specific evenings of our Family Holiday Show, the world premiere of Slipper – A Distinctly Calgarian Cinderella Story, which runs from November 22 – December 31, 2016. The designated Thursday nights for this fall are: December 1, December 8, December 15, and December 22, 2016.

Who Will it Benefit?

In the short term, our aim is simple: we want Calgary newcomers, including our Syrian guests, to experience a life-affirming, high quality, entertaining evening of Canadian theatre, and to enjoy the experience with their family, sitting with their new neighbours in the heart of their new community. We intend to inspire. As part of this program, we will offer a number of complimentary tickets (courtesy of ATP) to English speaking “Neighbour Hosts.” We know that for new arrivals whose English is limited, a companion who speaks the language and can help with transportation and navigation is almost a must for the success of a project like this. That is why we’ve created the role of Neighbour Host; we’ll work with our community partners to identify appropriate Neighbour Hosts. Our experience reaching out to underserved communities has taught us that the success of the project depends on careful advance consultation and thoughtful planning. We will design a project that keeps the workload on the partner agencies as low as possible, and streamlines the process of signing up for tickets. In the initial phase of the project, we will consult with our support networks to design the details. Then, we will work closely with our community partners, relying on them to identify Syrian families, organize groups, select Neighbour Hosts (who can be organization staff, volunteers, or even actual neighbours) and help the Syrian families find their way to the theatre. The partners will act as outreach and intermediaries between ATP and the Syrians to overcome barriers of language and familiarity. In addition, we have made contact with two Arabic speaking volunteers through our Board of Directors, to help with communication. We already have strong relationships and/or personal connections with many community partners who work with Syrian refugees.