Donor Profile: Susan Friedman
Donor history: I have been donating to Soulpepper since 2014 as a member of Top Women, and this year, also as a 42nd Street Patron to support Soulpepper’s initiatives in New York.
How did you first learn about Soulpepper/What is you first memory of Soulpepper? I became aware of Soulpepper shortly after its inception. I thought that the concept of actors creating their own company to perform both classical and contemporary works was brave and exhilarating. I saw the production of The Misanthrope early in Soulpepper’s history. It’s one of my favorite plays and that performance did not let me down.
What inspired you to support us? My impression is that Soulpepper honours and respects the work itself and that all of the artists involved in creating each production work together to fulfil the work. No showboating. This approach does not hamper creativity or stop the artists from looking at an older piece in a new way. Far from it – I am often delighted by a new take on a classic. I think this attitude is responsible for the high quality of Soulpepper productions and I want to encourage it and see more of it.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about giving to Soulpepper? And, why do you think the arts should be a priority for philanthropy? I would tell prospective donors that even if their financial position doesn’t allow them to support Soulpepper in a major way, if they value Soulpepper it is important to offer whatever financial support they can manage. Donating is a message to the artists that their work is respected and a message to the funding community, like governments and foundations, that what Soulpepper does is important to a broad base of community members. And surely no one can question any more that the arts enrich the lives of the community. The arts feed people in a unique way. We see ourselves on stage, both as we are and as we should be. We see new ideas that encourage us to look further and look deeper. The box office take of even the most successful shows by itself cannot fund the productions. We have to be there to fill the gap.
How do you feel about joining Soulpepper in New York this summer as a Tour Patron? And what does supporting Top Women mean to you? I am so excited for Soulpepper to take its work to New York. I expect the theatre world there to be blown away by the integrity, the creativity, the pure pleasure that the productions will give them. And I suspect that success in New York will encourage more support for Soulpepper’s work at home – that’s often the way it goes in Canada, isn’t it? As for Top Women, its members not only support Soulpepper productions, they support each other. It is a wonderful opportunity to network with women who value the arts and each other.
How do you imagine Soulpepper in 10 years? I imagine Soulpepper introducing us to new artists, especially new playwrights, and new productions while continuing to mount productions of the plays we already know and love. I anticipate that the artists will continue to follow the guiding principles on which they have relied to date. The thought is to have Soulpepper endure for generations to come.