While Covid presented us with many challenges, it also birthed some amazing ingenuity to help keep us connected yet safe.
For Theatre Collingwood it was the creation of The Porchside Festival, an event that will be held again this July, as part of the Collingwood community’s reemergence into the arts scene.
“It was created because we were in a pandemic and people couldn’t gather together inside,” said Erica Angus, executive director of Theatre Collingwood. “People loved the experience of being up close to the artists while feeling safe because they were outdoors and in their own lawn chairs and they could socially distance.”
Because it was so positively received, and since we’re still easing back into social activities, Angus said they decided to host the festival again this year, expanding the event to include more artists, shows and locations.
The Porchside Festival is a series of shows performed throughout the month of July in and around porches at different mostly-historic homes in Collingwood, with each performance commencing by sharing the amazing stories of those homes.
“We have 13 different porches throughout Collingwood and most of them are close to the downtown area,” said Angus. “On each porch, each show will be performed three times, and that’s what brings us up to the number of 39 performances in the month of July, including matinees.”
As Theatre Collingwood is a professional, not-for-profit theatre company that’s dedicated to enriching and entertaining the community with live theatre, Angus said this festival will provide the same level of quality entertainment as their regular productions.
“We are bringing in some of the most talented, professional performers, they’re ones that have performed for Mirvish, Shaw, Stratford, Broadway, that’s the level of talent, and we’ve mixed that with some local performers who are also extremely talented,” she said.
Angus said, 25 artists will be presenting a variety of performances including music-driven shows like cabarets, some that are storytelling based, and theatre-productions that also include one-man shows.
Why theatre and the arts is an integral component to a healthy, thriving community
During the pandemic we were all challenged to find a new normal and tasked to find safe ways to entertain ourselves. Angus said she believes one of the most important things that assured we survived the pandemic, even for those who feel they may not be into it, is the arts.
“My feeling is that the people who feel that they aren’t into the arts just don’t realize that they really are,” she said. “During the pandemic, if it wasn’t for the music, the television shows, Netflix, even the beautiful architecture in your home, well, all those things fed our souls during the pandemic and those things are all created by artists, and that’s why I believe we are all “into” the arts!”
Now that restrictions have largely been lifted, Angus said it’s time to begin to enjoy the arts in a community setting again, to gather with friends and family, socialize and immerse ourselves into an experience that fuels ourselves... mind, body and soul. One way to accomplish that is through the Porchside Festival.
“One of the biggest benefits we offer is the coming together of friends, with community…it brings people together, it creates conversation and a feeling of connectivity,” she said, adding that it’s a great way to lose yourself in the performance and detach from reality for a while.
Another benefit to having a thriving arts community, Angus said, is it contributes to a healthier community as a whole, while also providing a positive economic impact on a community.
“People who go to arts events are the same people who want to go dine in interesting restaurants, and shop in the stores and their friends stay in the hotels,” she said. “People want to move to an area because it has a robust cultural tapestry, one that tells the story of the people that live in the community.”
Along with The Porchside Festival, Theatre Collingwood is also offering a full season of productions as well as youth and seniors drama education programs. While they are a professional theatre company (not to be confused with the Gayety or Simcoe Street Theatres), they don’t have a home venue, and are currently working with the community to build a Centre for the Arts in Collingwood that will become their permanent space.
The Porchside Festival runs throughout July, tickets are $30, and shows begin at 7 p.m., with matinees beginning at 2p.m. Show descriptions can be found, and tickets can be purchased online or by calling 1-705-445-2200. For more information on this event or any other productions, contact them today!