Alfred and Joan Robertshaw met on stage at the Players’ Guild—a love story with a legacy, thanks to the fund Joan established to honour Alfred’s 40-plus years in community theatre.
“The performing arts have brought much joy to both our lives, not to mention lifelong friendships,” Joan wrote at the time. “Alfred realized how important it is for such organizations to have financial support in order to encourage creativity and often foster those who go on to professional careers in the theatre.”
With Joan’s passing in 2013 the Alfred & Joan Robertshaw Memorial Fund continues to support the couple’s passion for community theatre as well as heritage preservation efforts in Hamilton. This year’s recipients included Hamilton Theatre Inc., Players’ Guild of Hamilton Inc., Theatre Ancaster and Village Theatre Waterdown.
“We really believe in community building,” says Village Theatre president Corrie Giles. “We want Waterdown to be a vibrant place where people can find their entertainment close to home.” Village Theatre has used its grant to build a new website, rent costumes from Stratford, support a bursary for Waterdown high school drama students, create banners and signs, construct the set of an English country house, and purchase equipment. They also plan to host a professional workshop for young sound and lighting technicians.
Attracting the next generation is a priority. “We take our development role quite seriously, but we haven’t always had the money to do it,” Corrie says. Village Theatre encourages high school students to complete their volunteer hours learning makeup, set construction, and the technical booth. A recent production had two Grade 9 boys learning how to work the lighting board alongside a woman in her 60s. Over the 43 years that Village Theatre has existed, a number of volunteers have gone on to local and national careers in theatre.
“When the community foundation gives us money, many people share the benefits,” Corrie says. “And because it is an operating grant, we have the flexibility to use it where it’s needed. We can make it go a long way.”
Excerpt from 2018 Annual Report