Reported by Kristyn Anthony
Langara College’s premiere theatre arts program is expanding its breadth thanks to the success of the Studio 58 Legacy Fund, raising almost 10 per cent more than anticipated.
Initially established to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the program, artistic director Kathryn Shaw, former associate director Jane Heyman and Studio 58 graduate Joey Lespérance conceived the idea over dinner one evening in the spring of 2014.
In September, the Langara College Foundation announced the Legacy Fund had exceeded its original goal of $250,000. Over 500 individual donors have contributed to the campaign raising $136,739, which was then matched by the college.
The Legacy Fund supported by past grads and professionals alike
While it wasn’t clear exactly how the additional $23,000 would be spent, on the whole, the fund has given students opportunities such as working with professional actress and program alum Leslie Jones in last season’s production of The Crowd.
“They had the opportunity to observe first hand how a professional actor approaches the work,” Shaw wrote in an email to The Voice. “They were able to ask her questions and get advice on how to survive in the outside world.”
Cameron Mackenzie, co-founder of Zee Zee Theatre, is a graduate of Studio 58 and proud donor to the Legacy Fund.
“Studio 58 is one of the best conservatory theatre programs in the country and when you look at the resources we have, it’s laughable,” Mackenzie said.
The expansion will be beneficial to those on stage
David Hudgins is the associate director of Studio 58 and said the advantages the Legacy Fund provides are not always visible on stage. But, he feels it’s had a positive effect on the students, reinforcing the respect people have for the program.
“It’s changed us,” said Hudgins. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who donated.”
Hudgins cited this season’s musical, 42nd Street as an example of the benefits of the fund, allowing for a choreographer to be hired for the length of the run as well as an improved set design.
“It gives us an edge,” he said. “And, it gives the students an experience that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford, really enhancing their education.”