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Couple donates $500K to Drayton Entertainment’s Youth Academy

A West Montrose couple, Susan Wagler and Brad Carr, will have the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse Auditorium named after them to honour the multi-year financial commitment they made towards Drayton Entertainment’s new Youth Academy.

Their donation of $500, 000 will go to support rising performers and backstage workers as well as supporting arts education initiatives by Drayton Entertainment. The Carr Family Auditorium will represent the family’s longstanding support of community driven theatre, hoping to give youth a new light to shine in, the organization says.

“This vital support will set us up for another 30 years of success as we continue adapting and evolving our acclaimed theatre model beyond live theatre experiences to include other related activities, such as inspiring and empowering the next generation of artists onstage and behind-the-scenes, as well as providing positive experiences, which transcend the arts to shape future leaders and community-minded citizens,” said Alex Mustakas, artistic director of Drayton Entertainment. 

The Carr family has been attending productions at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse since 2005. The couple are active members in the community supporting various charitable organizations.

“We have watched as Drayton’s programs have expanded over the last few years to include people at all ages and stages of life,” said Brad Carr in a statement. “In particular, opportunities have increased exponentially for young people to be exposed to the arts through arts education, engagement, and outreach. Our family is excited to be part of the process as more youth throughout the province learn and grow under this new umbrella.”

The new youth academy training facility at 145 Northfield Dr. in Waterloo is a $3-million project. The donation from the Carr family is a significant contribution to Drayton’s ongoing fundraising efforts. The project will turn an industrial warehouse into a 10, 000 square foot actor’s paradise, complete with music rooms, acting studios, rehearsal halls and more.

“It’s a natural extension of our youth musical theater program that started about two years ago and it’s been very successful. We think it’s a great program because we’ve always wanted to destroy the barriers for youth and we just also believe that in these days, the most important impact we can make is generational change,  to bring youth together in a safe environment and hopefully not only build future performers and technicians for theatre but just the next generation of great community leaders,” said Mustakas. “Some of the kids will be incorporated into our professional productions, but we’re also looking at an annual high school project where we audition the best of the best and provide an outlet for them to work alongside professionals to put on a full-scale production.”

The Youth Academy is set to open early next year.

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