Arts groups have been among those hardest hit by the pandemic and resultant lockdowns. Those same organizations are eagerly awaiting the reopening of the economy now underway.
In the midst of a tough year, Green Light Arts has taken on the legacy of Lost & Found Theatre, the result of the latter organization’s artistic director, Kathleen Sheehy, looking to pay it forward rather than winding down the company after 17 years in the community. The idea was to give a growing performing arts company in the community a new leg to stand on
It was an interesting challenge for Green Light Arts co-founders Matt White and Carin Lowerison, who launched their not-for-profit theatre company in 2014 with the idea of presenting thought-provoking productions that explore social issues.
“The art that we do is very rooted in the social issues of our time, so we take interesting topics or difficult topics and create artistic content around them that start community conversations. So from the get go we have been invested in the community through art-making, “said Lowerison about the type of content they produce.
“I love the audiences here, the people we get to meet or know through the different productions,” noted White.
White and Lowerison say they’ve loved being part of the performing arts since they were young. They met in university studying theatre and the passion grew from there. They brought their children and their unique skill set to Waterloo Region after developing acting careers in Toronto.
Before the Lost & Found Theatre existed, Theatre and Company was its roots, which fundraised to help build the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts, which is home to the Green Light Arts company today.
“We’ve got our space at the Conrad Centre. We’re waiting for the pandemic to ease so we can start producing theatre again – we’re bolstered by the torch Lost and Found Theatre passed down,” said Lowerison.
“Kathleen approached us and said ‘you know Lost and Found Theatre is winding down, but I really want to pay it forward, I like you and I believe in what you’re doing. It’s very closely aligned with the foundations of what Lost and Found is about so I think we can pass the torch to you.’ So we’re taking over the charitable entity that was Lost and Found – we’re incredibly honoured at the position we’re in and so thankful for all the stuff that came before that allowed the torch to be passed to us,” she said.
“We’re thrilled that were going to be coming out of the pandemic in a stronger position than we otherwise would have been, because the pandemic was very difficult – to have to scale back really quickly and then go into survival mode, and then go into creation mode – we thought ‘let’s just be ready for when the pandemic lifts,’” said Lowerison about the transition.
“One of the things Kathleen said as we were going through this process, ‘the work is different, you can see the difference in the aesthetic in some of the topics, but the heart and the goal of the work is very similar,’” noted White.
“Once we get out of our houses and apartments, that forward momentum will continue. We’ll start to see more diverse stories – I believe we are in a very exciting time for theatre, and for the arts in general. I’m happy to see where it goes, to see where we can contribute.”
“Lost and Found patrons can be excited to see high-quality, thought-provoking work that will be entertaining and thoughtful. Maybe it will have a little bit of a different flavour, but a delicious flavour nonetheless,” added Lowerison, looking forward to welcoming patrons back to the theatre.
“Our hope with the work is that it sparks conversations that can hopefully lead to some kind of positive change, so there’s always an element of looking for hopeful ways through things, that grounds people in a common humanity. I think that is very much in alignment with both companies,” said White.
Green Light Arts is looking forward to welcoming patrons back and hopes they will be able to do so before the end of the year. The goal is to have more updates by early July so they can start making connections with the community as soon as possible.
“I think there will be a wonderful moment of joy and coming back to people, getting a chance to see each other again and share this space with stories,” said Lowerison.
“If people are unfamiliar with our work, check us out, our history of shows, feel free to approach us anytime, connect with us over social media. They can also visit our website to sign up for our new Green Light update.”