Sheridan students take centre stage at Toronto Fringe’s TENT program
Sheridan College research students have a front row seat at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, which kicks off July 3. Sheridan students are generating a buzz in Toronto’s theatre industry for their innovative work in expanding Toronto Fringe’s Theatre Entrepreneurs’ Networking and Training (TENT) program.
The Toronto Fringe Festival, which takes place July 3 – 14, is Ontario’s largest theatre festival, showcasing more than 150 productions at over 30 venues around the city every July.
“The Toronto Fringe has been extremely lucky to have worked with incredible students from Sheridan,” says Lucy Eveleigh, Executive Director, Toronto Fringe. “Being in the room with these innovative and thoughtful team players was eye-opening. It allowed us to see TENT – and the organization as a whole –through a different perspective and ultimately has already allowed us to implement some of the exciting ideas that were generated through our collaboration.”
In November 2018, the Canadian government announced a two-year, $240,000 grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for the research project “Mobilizing Social Innovation to Train the Next Generation of Theatre Entrepreneurs.” Led by Creativity and Creative Thinking Professor Dr. Brandon McFarlane, the project aims to improve Fringe’s TENT program by applying Sheridan’s expertise in creative problem solving and enabling an eclectic team of art, business, and design students to apply and hone their skills in creative leadership, marketing and branding.
“One person can achieve great things with enough drive and resources, but when you add an army of creative minds with fresh ideas and energy, the opportunities to build something extraordinary are endless,” says Dr. McFarlane. “By bringing this diverse group together, I want to ensure they have the experience of seeing the real-world impact and results of their work.”
Sheridan’s research team is expanding the TENT program and enhancing its accessibility. The team reimagined TENT to take advantage of the program’s networking and mentorship opportunities, creating an entrepreneurial curriculum portfolio featuring 14 hybrid modules that blend online and in-person learning.
“Because participants will attain key skills more quickly, they’ll have more time to build relationships in a highly collaborative field and continue developing advanced skills online after the 12-day, in-person programming curtains,” says Dr. McFarlane. “The new program provides vital education to a mass audience of emerging producers and helps today’s theatre professionals thrive.”
Toronto Fringe and TENT play an invaluable role in Canada’s theatre industry, providing a forum for industry leaders to pilot their new works and incubating world-class talent such as Irene Sankoff and David Hein, writers of the award-winning Broadway hit Come From Away, which had its start at the Canadian Music Theatre Project (CMTP) at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont. seven years ago.
Sheridan has established itself as a trusted research leader in Canada and continues to house groundbreaking research projects that benefit its community partners.
“Research at Sheridan is truly unique in that creativity and innovation intertwine to produce something special,” says Andrea England, Vice Provost, Research. “At Sheridan, our students have the incredible opportunity to apply their learned skills to a real-world research project that benefits our community and industry partners – as well as the entire community.”
Photo 1 (top right): Theatre entrepreneurs learning how to apply creative problem solving strategies. Photo by Kate Dockeray.
Photo 2: The team of research students are leveraging Sheridan’s expertise in social innovation and community-engaged research to expand Toronto Fringe’s Theatre Entrepreneurs’ Networking and Training program (TENT). Photo by Kate Dockeray.
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