Stage Door News

Toronto: Why Not Theatre's RISER programme expands to Edmonton

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

With generous support from the Government of Canada and the RBC Foundation, Why Not Theatre is embarking on a national expansion of RISER, starting in Edmonton in February 2022 and expanding into other Canadian cities in 2023.  

In partnership with Edmonton-based theatre company Common Ground Arts Society (CGAS), RISER Edmonton will support the development and production of four Edmonton-based shows each year, with participants receiving enough in-kind resources to help reduce their costs of production by one third, on average. Participants will also undergo a year-long mentorship and training program with a focus on developing producing skills. 

Originally developed by Why Not Theatre, RISER was created to address the challenges of producing independent theatre. RISER brings together senior leadership from the theatre community with emerging artists in order to maximize existing infrastructures, share resources and risk, help build new audiences, and support a commitment to create and innovate. 

RISER relies on a community of Senior Partners to support a new generation of artists. Senior Partners are a diverse group of established theatre organizations that contribute resources, mentorship, and support to RISER artists. By pooling these underutilized resources, RISER Edmonton will be able to support more artists with existing infrastructure. Why Not and CGAS enthusiastically welcome Azimuth Theatre, Catalyst Theatre, Citadel Theatre, and Edmonton Fringe Theatre as RISER Edmonton’s inaugural Senior Partners.  

RISER brings together artists and Senior Partners who are generous, flexible, curious, and willing to share and work in new ways. The heart of RISER is building relationships to create an interdependent theatre 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 engaged 300 artists, in support of 30 new Canadian productions which have gone on to 100 international engagements, reach 25,000+ audiences, and receive 50+ awards and nominations. Two-thirds of all RISER shows (including Quote Unquote Collective’s Mouthpiece, Motion’s Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape, and Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua) have gone on to mount successful professional runs after their RISER debuts.

“RISER is by design entirely collaborative,” says Why Not Theatre Founder & 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 roster of artists. Since the model has been such a successful platform in supporting underserved artists in Toronto, we wanted to bring it to other major city centres across Canada to support more artists all across the country. We’re excited and humbled to start this journey in Edmonton, a city brimming with more theatre artists per capita than any city in Canada. We couldn’t be more grateful to both the RBC Foundation and Canadian Heritage in helping us to share this vision and impact change on a national level.”

“RISER Edmonton is an inspiringly collaborative approach to theatre creation that will ensure emerging artists are well-supported in the development of new work, while providing meaningful connection to senior leadership in our community,” says CGAS Artistic Producer Beth Dart. “It’s a win-win for everyone: we share the risk, we resource the next generation of theatre artists, we invest in the future of Canadian theatre, and we close the mentorship gap that exists in those in-between years when artists need the most support to transition from emerging to established.”

Now that I’m producing on my own, I feel upheld. I feel way more confident with the simple tasks. I gained a lot of those skills with my time in RISER,” says RISER 18 artist daniel jelani ellis. “RISER gave me a platform to take more risks as a director, in terms of working in a form that is unconventional and working with artists from different disciplines,” says RISER 17 artist Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu. “Producing on your own is a lot harder,” says RISER 17 artist Justin Miller.

RISER Edmonton

A Collaborative Producing Model Created by Why Not Theatre

Applications now open
Deadline to apply: April 16, 2021

For more information visit

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