Why Not Theater RISER expands to Edmonton

With generous support from the Government of Canada and the RBC Foundation, Why Not Theater is launching RISER’s national expansion, starting in Edmonton in February 2022 and expanding to other Canadian cities in 2023.

Working with the Edmonton-based theater company Common Ground Arts Society (CGAS), RISER Edmonton will support the development and production of four Edmonton-based shows each year, with sufficient in-kind resources for attendees to reduce their production costs by one third on average. Participants will also go through a year-long mentoring and training program with an emphasis on developing production skills.

Originally developed by Why Not Theater, RISER was created to address the challenges of independent theater production. RISER brings senior theater executives together with emerging performers to maximize existing infrastructures, share resources and risks, help build new audiences, and support commitment to creativity and innovation.

RISER relies on a community of senior partners to support a new generation of artists. Senior Partners are a diverse group of established theater organizations that provide resources, mentoring and support for RISER artists. By pooling these underutilized resources, RISER Edmonton will be able to support more artists with existing infrastructure. Why Not and CGAS are excited to welcome Azimuth Theater, Catalyst Theater, Citadel Theater and Edmonton Fringe Theater as the first RISER Edmonton Senior Partners.

RISER brings together artists and senior partners who are generous, flexible, curious and ready to share and work in new ways. The heart of RISER is relationship building to create an interdependent theater ecosystem where the success of one is the success of many. With RISER we move from independent to interdependent.

Founded in 2014, RISER has since hired 300 artists to support 30 new Canadian productions that have resulted in 100 international engagements, reaching more than 25,000 viewers, and receiving over 50 awards and nominations. Two thirds of all RISER shows (including the mouthpiece by Quote Unquote Collective, the Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape by Motion and Chautauqua by Pearle Harbor) have made successful professional runs after their RISER debuts.

“RISER is completely collaborative by design,” says Why Not Theater founder and co-artistic director Ravi Jain. “We were able to develop and refine RISER in Toronto with the help of a community of senior partners and a talented list of artists. With the model being such a successful platform in support of underserved artists in Toronto, we wanted to bring it to other major city centers across Canada to support more artists across the country. We are excited and humble to begin this journey in Edmonton, a city with more performers per capita than any other city in Canada. We couldn’t be more grateful for both the RBC Foundation and Canadian Heritage for helping us share that vision and make change nationally. “

“RISER Edmonton is an inspiring collaborative approach to theater creation that ensures emerging artists are well supported in developing new work while creating meaningful connections with senior leaders in our community,” says CGAS Artistic Producer Beth Dart. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone: we share the risk, we provide resources for the next generation of theater artists, we invest in the future of Canadian theater, and we close the mentoring gap that exists in the years in between when artists need the greatest support for the transition from emerging to established companies. “

“Now that I’m producing on my own, I feel supported. I feel a lot more confident about the simple tasks. I acquired many of these skills during my time at RISER, ”says RISER 18 artist Daniel Jelani Ellis. “RISER gave me a platform to take more risks as a director, in terms of an unconventional way of working and working with artists from different disciplines,” says Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu, artist from RISER 17. “It is much more difficult to produce yourself,” says RISER 17 artist Justin Miller.

See whynot.theatre/riser for more information.

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