Stratford’s SpringWorks Festival will soon be able to modernize how it presents puppetry, dance and other artistic works to the public thanks to nearly $149,000 in infrastructure grant funding through the federal government’s Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.
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Aimed at helping arts organizations respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting renovation and construction projects, as well as the purchase of specialized equipment, the funding will be used by SpringWorks and Hermione Presents, the charity that supports the festival and its programming, to purchase and install new equipment and infrastructure meant to improve health and safety for patrons and artists.
Thanks to a partnership with Factory 163, an arts space in Stratford where SpringWorks often presents shows indoors, a portion of the funding will help improve ventilation, air quality and filtration, seating, staging and spacing capacity to provide SpringWorks and other community and arts groups with a venue for COVID-safe and accessible indoor programming.
The funding will also allow SpringWorks to create a tech-centred studio space in Stratford with efficient, online-streaming capability, audio and film equipment and more.
“It’s very exciting,” said SpringWorks artistic producer Eileen Smith. “We’re going to be able to create a space that can livestream and also be used for video purposes, so you can record a show, an art – an anything – that can then be redistributed in some other manner. … Part of this is relative to making people safe, but it’s also addressing the world that has moved into various forms of either streaming or hybrid format or ways to keep the performing arts industry viable if there were (more) shutdowns.”
In addition to creating an indoor studio and performing space at Factory 163, the funding has allowed the festival to purchase equipment such as weather-resistant tents that will enhance SpringWorks outdoor programming.
“We have a 20-by-30 (foot) tent and similar 10-by-10s and some other versions of umbrellas and stuff, which is very exciting because we are going to be doing our very first shared festival with Stratford Summer Music. … The World in a Weekend will be on Veterans Drive, but this means we’ll have tents, and we will have some nice umbrellas for shade, and some seating and various other aspects that will really make outside more accessible,” Smith said.
The World in a Weekend festival is slated for Aug. 4 to Aug. 7.
Smith said all of the equipment purchased with this grant funding, including the cameras and audio equipment, will be available for other artists, creators and community groups to rent and use once it arrives in Stratford in the coming weeks.