Established in 2001 by 18 year-old Anthony Furey, the Paprika Festival has evolved in its vision and scope significantly. The young Mr. Furey approached former Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre, Urjo Kareda, with the idea of creating a Festival that showcased work created entirely by young people. In March 2002, the first Paprika Festival showcased five new plays created by artists 21 and under.
Each year, the Paprika Festival has introduced exciting new initiatives. In 2005, under the guidance of Artistic Producer Natasha Mytnowych, the Festival launched the Inter/national project, and in 2006, Paprika started its Oasis Alternative Artists Lab and the After-School Artists Lab. In 2007, Artistic Producer Tessa King introduced a multi-disciplinary Creators’ Unit, supporting new film, visual art and spoken word projects. After King’s departure in 2008, Julia Lederer stepped into the role of Interim Artistic Producer, to execute the eighth annual Festival.
From 2009-2013, the Paprika Festival was under the guidance of Rob Kempson. Programming has continued to change in response to the needs of the youth arts community, but also in response to the needs of the Festival. In the 12/13 season, Kempson with the facilitation of Rosamund Small piloted the Advisory Board—a new opportunity for participant-aged youth to engage in the administrative and development aspects of an arts organization. This new program has served the Festival in the short-term by connecting to new communities and providing a youth-led opportunity; it also serves the Festival in the long term by developing the next generation of leaders and Board members for Paprika. The 2012/2013 season also saw the introduction of Paprika’s first General Manager, Katherine Devlin.
In his tenure as Artistic Producer between 2013-2015, Dan Daley launched a community arts initiative, an expansion of the production program for emerging artists under 30 and the presentation of both national and international young artists. In 2015, Artistic Programs Manager Rosamund Small developed and curated Paprika’s inaugural Intersection conference – a day of workshops, debates and roundtables on issues and topics relevant to emerging artists. The 2015/2016 season, led by Artistic Producer Darwin Lyons and General Manager Michelle Yagi, introduces a new partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts, a renewed focus on community arts engagement, and a strategic plan for Paprika’s future.
In our 18 seasons to date we have supported the artistic work of over 1,000 individuals and launched over 100 professional careers.
We have grown from a Festival of five short plays to a Festival with year-round programming featuring a diversity of productions, playwrights-in-residence, a resident company, a creators’ unit, a youth advisory board, a cabaret series, ongoing mentorship, monthly training days and a vibrant connection to the professional arts community.