Thoughts from Donna on a snowy winter morning:

I look out my office window and snow flakes are dancing off the branches of the giant oak tree in the courtyard as they spiral to the ground. It is cold and there is no need to dream of a white Christmas as it is most definitely here. I see folks trudging along the sidewalk – some with shopping bags and some just walking so that they can stay warm. Around the neighborhood, community service workers are going from tent to tent to check on those who are sleeping outside – trying to help them relocate to a warmer place to sleep and shelter or to bring them something warm to drink and to have a visit.

How did a country with the riches of Canada get to this place where so many people are living in poverty and sleeping on the streets when others have so much?

We all have our own decisions to make as to how we can help and work towards positive change for those around us. Firehall most recently took what we see as a positive community building step. We have begun working to employ folks trained by Mission Possible. Mission Possible is a wonderful local organization with a mission to help those with life skill challenges; those who may have been living on the streets and those suffering from painful pasts and addictions, to re-enter the workforce.

Each night before and after performances, Mission Possible Community Navigators are here at the Firehall to greet audience members and help them feel safe in our neighborhood. They walk folks to and from their bus stop or cars before or after a performance and are happy to share information about their neighborhood. They are a great group of people who sincerely care about their community and want to make it a better place for all who live and visit here. We hope to continue this program into 2023 and find other ways to support and help strengthen the Firehall’s community.

There is so much to be thankful for as we close out 2022 and continue to celebrate the Firehall’s 40th anniversary season. We have had many great partnerships over the year as we worked to bring people back to the theatre when pandemic restrictions were lifted. Wonderful productions including, most recently, Courage Now and Mary’s Wedding, Yellow Fever and rice ‘n beans production of Yellow Objects entertained and challenged audiences and artists. Dancing on the Edge was back in full force, Powell Street Festival and Music in the Courtyard kept the summer months busy.

It was great to meet new audience members and to welcome back those who have supported us for a long time – thank you, thank you. We made some new artistic friendships and build on those from the past. We received the Lieutenant Governor’s Platinum Jubilee Award honouring Queen Elizabeth II for our theatre and dance work celebrating Canada’s cultural pluralism. And we moved one step further towards a renovated Firehall facility that will be physically accessible.

It was a good year and as it draws to a close, we are grateful for all of the support we receive from our audiences, the artists we work with and all of our wonderful volunteers. And as next year dawns, there will still be a lot of work to be done so that we can continue to program artistically strong, inclusive theatre, dance and music; so that we can continue to build partnerships with our communities and so that we can maintain this wonderful 116 year old building as an arts centre.

We hope you will continue to support us in realizing these tasks. On behalf of the Firehall staff, I wish you all the best for the holiday season and may all your wishes come true in 2023.

—Donna Spencer, Artistic Producer

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