The Honourable Janice Filmon, C.M., O.M.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba
Thursday, May 30, 2019 – 5:00 p.m.
Dear friends, lovers of the theatre and of a province that loves theatre, it’s a pleasure to welcome you to Government House to salute a man who has done so much to build and strengthen the cultural community of Manitoba.
I’d like to begin by acknowledging that the Anishinaabe and Metis people lived along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers long before this place became Winnipeg and this city remains home to the largest Indigenous community in Canada.
Many of the successes of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre under artistic director Steven Schipper can be counted – though you’d need a long list.
There’s the growth in subscribers, the long-term stability generated by the Steven Schipper Endowment Fund, the number of productions on RMTC’s two stages during his 30-year tenure, the number of Canadian and world premieres. And a lot more.
But as one of the founders of RMTC noted many years ago, the arts don’t just benefit a community by creating employment or attracting tourism.
As Tom Hendry said, “They give a great city an image of its soul.” And not just a great city.
During Steven’s time, the people of Manitoba have seen their dreams and concerns reflected on the RMTC stages. They have shared that magical experience of coming together with a group of others to witness a living, breathing work of magic.
Theatre is unique among the arts in that it allows the audience to witness the creation as it is happening. It requires that the audience participate in imagining the work. Whether it’s a Fringe play on a bare stage or a John Hirsch Mainstage production with the most beautiful sets and costumes, theatre requires a collective work of imagination on the part of the audience.
By bringing people together to make that collective work of the imagination, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre has an impact far beyond the stage.
As artistic director of RMTC, Steven has been helping this province build its sense of community, one production and one season at a time for thirty years.
He has built the creative community in Manitoba through the many theatre artists and writers who have been given opportunities to learn, to practise, and to soar to the heights.
He has inspired hundreds of thousands of Manitobans to imagine a better, more beautiful place. He has encouraged us to see Manitoba as a place where great things can be dreamed and created.
Thank you Steven, for the magic you’ve created, and thank you for helping all of us to make our own magic.