Being on the Advisory Board at the Paprika Festival

By Advisory Board member Aimee Bouchard

I have a confession to make: I’ve actually never been a part of the Paprika Festival in any way, shape or form until now. So when I found out I was accepted onto the Advisory Board, of course I was incredibly excited, but I was also really nervous… how was I supposed to, well, advise when I didn't know how this Festival works?   Luckily for me, my peers on the Advisory Board have done even more than merely catch me up to speed.   I'm realizing that although our role is to support the young artists of the Festival and the work that they are working so tirelessly to create, this is also a phenomenal opportunity for all of us on the Advisory Board to gain some real-life skills, understand how a not-for-profit works, and network with some very talented and generous emerging and established theatre professionals.   I also didn’t expect to feel so much comfort in being around other young artists and art administrators; turns out I’m not the only young person trying to navigate this crazy arts world! There is comfort in knowing that we’re not alone, and being able to turn to our peers in this wildly unpredictable but wonderfully exciting point in our careers. One of our last meetings ended spontaneously with all of us sharing how hard and sometimes even awkward it can be to network, and how difficult it is to prove that we’re worth our salt as young people emerging onto the Toronto theatre scene. We then started talking about the ways in which we could share these feelings with the festival participants, and also the ways in which we can help to ease the process for them. To me, this is what the Paprika Festival is all about. I am so incredibly honoured to be a part of something which is making it easier for young people who are passionate about theatre to meet each other, make their work happen, and weave themselves into the fabric of the Toronto theatre scene.