The Fredericton Playhouse Introduces New Youth Advisory Committee
The Fredericton Playhouse has been one of the city’s most important performance venues since it first opened its doors in 1964. For over five decades, the facility and its management team have continued to develop, adapt and diversify opportunities to meet the needs of an ever-changing audience. In addition to a broad range of programming that includes top international performers in music, dance, theatre and comedy, The Playhouse also hosts regular talks with performers, discussions with members of the arts community and unique interactive opportunities in an effort to offer greater value and experience to its audience.
But remaining a valid and vital part of the community isn’t without its challenges. Moving forward and exploring new opportunities is a constant priority.
Last night, The Playhouse held the first meeting of its youth advisory committee, a new initiative designed to advise and inform the board of directors and the management team on how to stay better connected with young, fresh interests and ideas.
“We’re always looking to make things better,” said Tim Yerxa, Executive Director of the Playhouse. “As great as we thinking we’re doing, there’s always room to grow. And part of that involves identifying the needs and interests of a younger demographic.”
The committee is made up of a dozen young adults, including students at the high school and university levels, as well as recent graduates, all passionate about the future direction of the city’s arts and cultural activities.
“We see our organization as meeting needs,” said Yerxa. “We want to meet the needs of the community. I see the youth advisory committee as a real opportunity for us to move forward. Their role is to tell us how to do our job better.”
The new committee will meet regularly to examine a number of topics related to the current and future operations of the facility including programming, communications, ticketing and patron services. Reporting to The Playhouse management team on a regular basis will allow an opportunity for the committee’s ideas and suggestions to be reviewed throughout the year. The members will also present their findings to the board of directors annually.
“We recognise that we’re getting older,” said Program Director Valerie Hillier. “In some ways, we’re struggling to understand what younger audiences are thinking and how they’re doing things, so we really saw a need to get youth more involved in our organisation. We’ve shared this vision for a few years now and so I’m really excited to see it finally up and running.”
The inaugural edition of the youth advisory committee will be chaired by Brandy Rivers, a student at St. Thomas University and recent summer intern at The Playhouse.
“During the last week of my summer job, Valerie and I talked about the committee and I thought it was a really cool idea,” said Rivers. “Later, she asked if I would be interested in chairing the group. I think the long-term goal would be to elect a new chair every year, but for the first year, they wanted someone with a little experience and understanding of how The Playhouse operates.”
Rivers is keen to start discussions on the many topics currently on the committee’s agenda. While she recognizes certain areas may be more appealing to some, she views every aspect of the patron and performer experience with equal importance.
“Programming would definitely be cool to make more accessible to youth,” she said, “but I think The Playhouse will really benefit from a young perspective in many areas. Fredericton is a university community and because of that, the audience is always changing. By facilitating a youth voice, I think we’ll be able to help The Playhouse better adapt to the interests of new audiences.”