TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 3, 2017) - Marilyn Field, Founder of DAREarts, announced today that Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival, will receive the 2017 Cultural Award at the DAREarts Leadership Awards, on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at The Carlu in Toronto. The Cultural Award is presented annually to an individual who has led the way in cultivating culture for Canadian youth.
"Antoni Cimolino is an ideal honouree for this year's Cultural Award, as a visionary who is leading Canadian theatre in artistic inspiration through stories of victory over conflict. This resonates with our at-risk youth who, facing adversity, accomplish great things through the arts and community engagement," said Marilyn Field, Founder & President of DAREarts. "In Canada's 150th year, the 2017 season of the Stratford Festival explores identity and presents its first ever original production about Indigenous culture. This perfectly mirrors the work of DAREarts that empowers youths from diverse cultures, including Indigenous, to find their own unique identities through creativity in these times when, globally, we need to be embracing our differences."
Antoni Cimolino began his Stratford Festival career as an actor in the 1980s and began to direct productions in the mid-'90s. His interest in theatre soon expanded to the administrative side, where he rose through the ranks to be General Manager, General Director and Executive Director - all the while continuing to direct on stage. In 2013, he assumed the role of Artistic Director and in just four years has had an enormous impact. Mr. Cimolino is passionate about enriching the lives of others through the education and practice of the arts. Among his accomplishments is the establishment of a performing arts education centre in Suchitoto, El Salvador, jointly led by CUSO and the Stratford Festival. Since 2002, Stratford Festival has hosted DAREarts youths during the summer months of its season. The youth attend a Festival production, tour behind the scenes and meet cast members. When they return home, they mount and perform an abbreviated version of that play.
In response to being named DAREarts 2017 Cultural Award recipient, Antoni Cimolino stated, "It's inspiring to see the impact of the arts on personal expression and young imaginations. They help young people feel less isolated and more empowered. DAREARTS gives us all hope for the future."
This year, as part of Canada's 150th celebrations, DAREarts and the Stratford Festival are embarking on a unique partnership project called 'Spirit Bear' that incorporates artwork by northern Indigenous youths into The Stratford Festival's season. With ONT150 support from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, a team of artists and educators from both organizations are travelling to four remote northern Ontario First Nations to work with the young people, alongside local teachers, elders and artists. Up to 30 youths per community are engaging in intensive, weeklong multi-arts workshops in the school and community.
In August, the Stratford Festival will premiere 'The Breathing Hole', a new Indigenous-inspired epic allegory written by Colleen Murphy and directed by Reneltta Arluk. It tells of a polar bear encountering change in northern Canada through five centuries. In this partnership, Indigenous youths in each participating First Nation will share their own traditional story that involves a bear. The youths' works will be on display as a pre-show throughout the Stratford Festival's run of 'The Breathing Hole'.
This partnership responds to the calls to action from 'The Truth and Reconciliation Commission' by supporting youth education and Indigenous culture. It consists of multi-disciplinary storytelling that combines traditional teachings with contemporary communication methods: their stories will be shared through DAREarts YouTube to connect the Indigenous youths with all Canadians, and will help inform those attending the Stratford Festival.
To celebrate Mr. Cimolino, guests at the Leadership Awards gala will enjoy a display of Stratford Festival costumes and props, as well as sneak peek displays of the 'Spirit Bear' project. Guests will also enjoy a cocktail reception, sumptuous sit-down dinner, as well as auctions, art, drama, dance and music that reflect identity. Moreover, addressing Truth and Reconciliation, there will be a special Legacy Room where the guests can explore their own connection to our Indigenous peoples and cultures.
In addition to honouring Mr. Cimolino, the Gala will introduce six youths who have turned their lives around and become leaders in their lives and communities. These youths will be presented with financial scholarships and the opportunity to share their personal story of how DAREarts instilled in them the tools to set a bright future.
Canada's DAREarts is a national charity that empowers at-risk children with the confidence and courage to be leaders, using all the arts. When children apply the DAREarts values of Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence, they take charge of their lives and become leaders who ignite positive change in Canada's marginalized communities, making Canada a better place for all of us. For 21 years, DAREarts has delivered out-of-school, arts and values programs, taught by teachers and arts professionals, to over 200,000 children from grades 4 to 12. In Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Nova Scotia, DAREarts delegates participate in real-world workshops in art, architecture, dance, drama, fashion, literature, music and leadership. They then go back to their schools and peer-teach their classmates. Also, DAREarts answers invitations from Indigenous communities to deliver arts programming that aligns with their culture, exposing the Indigenous children to creative learning opportunities and hope for the future. Since its inception in 1996, DAREarts has helped to break the vicious cycle of poverty, bullying, isolation and marginalization for Canadian children that too often cripples successful development.
DAREarts is grateful to its National Presenting Supporter, Northbridge Insurance and its Lead Supporters: Scotiabank, TD, Anne Livingston and Ontario150: Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. For more information visit: www.darearts.com
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